Whether you quit or are terminated from your place of employment, you are entitled to all earned wages due and payable at the time of your separation. If an employer discharges an employee, all wages earned and unpaid by the employee are due and payable at the time of termination. Labor Code § 201(a). Similarly, if you quit with a 72-hour notice, all wages earned and unpaid are due and payable on the day of your resignation. Labor Code § 202(a). However, if you quit without a 72-hour notice, the employer must pay your final wages within 72-hours after you quit. Labor Code § 202(a). If the employer fails to adhere to these rules, the employee may be entitled to waiting-time penalties, equivalent to one day of wages at the employee's standard hourly rate for each day the employer falls beyond the deadline, up to a maximum of thirty days.
More importantly, the employer must make certain that the amount paid is accurate. In a somewhat extreme case, the court in Nishiki v. Danko Meredith, APC (2018) 25 Cal. App. 5th 883 awarded a former employee a six-figure judgment due to an $80.00 error on the employee's final paycheck. Upon Ms. Nishiki's resignation, the former employer sent a check in the amount of $2,880.31, but the amount as spelled in words on the check read "Two thousand eight hundred and 31/100" - which was $80 short. The employer eventually sent a check with the right amount written on it, but Ms. Nishiki filed a claim for waiting time penalties totaling $4,250 which was granted. The employer appealed the award to the superior court, which awarded Nishiki the $4,250 in waiting time penalties plus $86,160 in attorneys' fees.
The Labor Code imposes strict penalties on employers who fail or refuse to follow labor laws. If you recently quit your job or were fired and have questions about your final paycheck, give our attorneys a call for a free consultation. (818) 405-0080.