Coyle Browne Law


I Quit and My Employer Didn’t Give Me My Final Paycheck. What Now?

In the event that you quit or are terminated from your job and have not received your final paycheck, rest assured you do have legal rights according to both federal and specific state labor laws. While many employees might anticipate immediate payment upon quitting or being fired, employers are often allowed a certain period of time under the law to provide this final check depending on the specific circumstances surrounding the end of employment.

It’s essential that you know the law so you can take appropriate action to receive the compensation owed to you.

Final Payment Laws in California

In the state of California, labor laws are quite stringent regarding final paychecks. If your employment is terminated, or you voluntarily resign and provide at least 72 hours’ notice, as an employee you are entitled to receive your final paycheck immediately upon leaving.

If an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately.”

Should you quit without serving a 72-hour notice period, however, the employer has up to 72 hours from the resignation date to issue your final check.

If an employee not having a written contract for a definite period quits his or her employment, his or her wages shall become due and payable not later than 72 hours thereafter, unless the employee has given 72 hours previous notice of his or her intention to quit, in which case the employee is entitled to his or her wages at the time of quitting. Notwithstanding any other law, an employee who quits without providing a 72-hour notice shall be entitled to receive payment by mail if he or she so requests and designates a mailing address. The date of the mailing shall constitute the date of payment for purposes of the requirement to provide payment within 72 hours of the notice of quitting.”

What Must Be Included in The Final Paycheck?

In California, final paychecks should include all earned and unpaid wages up until the last day of employment. This includes commissions that are due, any reimbursable business expenses, paid time off not utilized (if applicable), plus any cash value attributed to other accumulated benefits.

Standard deductions apply from this final amount for elements such as taxes or court-ordered child support payments.

What To Do If Your Employer Doesn’t Pay You 

If you find yourself in a position where your employer doesn’t remit your final paycheck, the state of California provides remedies.

File a Wage Claim

First, you can file a wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Once filed, this initiates an investigation, and if necessary, a hearing will be held. At the hearing, it can be ordered that your employer pay you what you are owed. 

File a Lawsuit

Should the wage claim not be an approach you want to take or if it doesn’t prove fruitful, another potential avenue is to file a wage and hour lawsuit against your employer directly. Often, just sending a powerful demand letter through an attorney expressing your intention to sue might push your employer to pay you what you are owed. However, if you have to follow through with a lawsuit, we can help you.

If successful, the court can order your employer to pay you the following: 

  • Unpaid wages plus interest 
  • A waiting time penalty if your employer is willfully withholding your pay. This will be your daily rate of pay for each day your wages remain unpaid (up to a maximum of 30 days)
  • Reasonable attorney’s fees
  • Court costs

There are sometimes exceptions to these deadlines and what you’re entitled to, so working with an experienced San Diego employment lawyer is always recommended. If you find yourself facing such a situation, seeking prompt legal advice can make all the difference in ensuring fair compensation. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.

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