When you decide to quit your job because you've found another, or you want to leave a job due to an unfavorable working environment, employment and labor laws in California can protect you from negative employer actions. In fact, your employer is required under law to give you your final paycheck within a certain time period. If they do not, then they could face some unwelcome penalties.
What Are Your Rights When Leaving a Job in California?
California law permits at-will employees to leave their jobs at any time, and for any reason. However, if you have a contract with an employer that states a specific duration of employment, you may not be able to quit your job without some consequences.
California's Final Paycheck Law is Very Strict; Employers Must Comply
When you quit your job, a California employer only has a very limited amount of time to get your final paycheck to you. Under California's final paycheck law, your employer must pay you your final wages within 72 hours if you do not give prior notice. If you do provide at least 72 hours' notice of your leaving, your employer must provide you with a final paycheck on your last day of work at the company.
Vacation Time Must Be Included in Your Final Paycheck
If you have accrued vacation time when you quit your job, it is considered part of your wages under California law. This means your employer must pay you for unused vacation time in your final paycheck. However, there may be exceptions to this rule if a union contract or company policy states that you lose benefits once you quit your job.
No, Your Boss Cannot Hold Back Your Paycheck for Any Reason
No matter what type of reason your boss has for holding back your paycheck, it is always unlawful if your employer fails to pay you on time after you decide to leave. You have a right to your money, regardless of your employer's circumstances, or whether you gave a two-week notice or no notice at all. Additionally, if your employer withholds your final paycheck until you return your uniform or business equipment, this is unlawful, as your employer cannot force you to return to company property in order to collect final pay. Of course, while you should always return any company belongings, you cannot be forced to do so just to receive a final paycheck.
Independent Contractors Have Rights to Final Paychecks, Too
While independent contractors in California cannot file wage claims if an employer fails to pay them, they can file lawsuits against employers in small claims court. Before you quit your job in California, it is always wise to check whether you are classified as an employee or contractor in order to determine what your rights are. Sometimes, your employer may illegally misclassify you, which is just another reason you may want to file a claim.
If you have received just part of what your final pay should be or have not received a final paycheck on time, you may want to think about filing a complaint with the DLSE or even have a California employment attorney help you file a lawsuit. Contact the Los Angeles employment attorneys at Hennig Ruiz today for a free consultation.