In Texas, paycheck-related issues are governed by the Texas Payday Law.
Similar to its federal counterpart, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), this state law requires employers to comply with specific rules when it comes to issuing paychecks.
Unfortunately, navigating this area of the law can be complex, so if you have not received your final paycheck, it is important to retain an experienced employment law attorney who can evaluate your case and help you collect the compensation that you deserve.
Do you have questions about Texas’ final paycheck laws?
Schedule a consultation with Wood Edwards LLP today to get your questions answered.
When Will I Receive My Final Paycheck?
The deadline by which a person must receive his or her final paycheck depends in large part on who terminated the employment. For example, those who voluntarily end their employment have the right to receive their final wages by the next regular pay day.
This means that those who are paid on a monthly basis may be forced to wait until next month’s pay date for their paycheck, while those who are paid twice a month may only need to wait for a couple of weeks. However, if a person was involuntarily terminated, which includes being fired, laid off, or discharged, his or her employer will be required to send the final paycheck no later than six days after termination.
A mutual separation is also usually treated as an involuntary termination for the purposes of sending a final paycheck, although some circumstances may permit an employer to wait until the next pay day.
Whether a person’s termination was voluntary or involuntary depends on the nature of the separation. Essentially, if an employee initiates the separation and leaves even though continued work is available, the termination is considered voluntary. If, on the other hand, the termination is initiated by the employer and the worker has no choice in whether he or she stays or goes, the work separation qualifies as involuntary.
What Will My Final Paycheck Include?
A person’s final paycheck includes not only regular wages, but also fringe benefits that are accounted for in a written policy, such as commissions and bonuses. These amounts must also be paid according to the aforementioned schedule unless the wage agreement provides for an alternative payout schedule.
In the latter case, the agreement or contract will dictate the deadline for final commissions and bonuses. Unfortunately, this could mean that a former employee must wait many months or even years before he or she can pick up a commission check. The only exception to this rule is if an employer included an acceleration clause in the employment contract or commission agreement.
In these situations, the employer is required to accelerate payment after someone leaves a company in accordance with the terms of the agreement. Other benefits, including health insurance or a 401(k) plan follow the same rules.
Can My Employer Withhold My Paycheck?
Employers are prohibited from holding a final paycheck past the deadline because of a grievance, such as a failure to return company property. As long as the employer knows or should know how much the former employee is owed, it will be required to deliver that paycheck by the appropriate deadline. However, an employee may face payment-related consequences for failing to return company property.
For instance, some employers deduct the cost of the item from the person’s wages or from a property return security deposit. Otherwise, employers are prohibited from holding a final paycheck as collateral, either in retribution, or to force an employee to do something. For instance, an employer may want an employee to sign a waiver of liability or provide password access to certain business-related accounts.
Fortunately, this type of behavior is unlawful unless an employee signed documentation prior to termination, in which he or she agreed to take certain steps before receiving a final paycheck. These types of agreements are enforceable, although even if an employee violates one, employers are still required to pay at least minimum wage for the hours recorded on the last paycheck.
Can My Employer Garnish My Final Paycheck?
Under Texas law, employers are permitted to garnish a person’s final paycheck for certain support obligations. As long as the check is worth $500 or more, employers are required to notify the Attorney General’s office before approving the payment.
This allows the agency to determine whether a deduction is appropriate. The agency then has ten days to notify the employer about its conclusion regarding the support deduction. These types of deductions do not usually need to be authorized by the employee because they are almost always the result of a court order.
What Should I do if My Employer Doesn’t Pay Me on Time?
While many employers take great pains to pay their former employees on time, not all employers are so scrupulous, either because they do not have the funds to pay the wage, do not keep accurate records, or are attempting to force the employee to do something specific.
In the event that an employer just doesn’t have the money to issue a final paycheck, the employee may have to get a lien on the employer’s property by filing a lawsuit or going through an administrative process. The employer’s property will then be sold to cover the employee’s paycheck.
Some late payments, however, may merely be the result of a paperwork error, so those who don’t receive their final paycheck on time should request payment directly from the employer in writing. An employer will either quickly address the problem or refuse to pay.
In the latter case, the employee can file a wage claim with the Texas Workforce Commission and eventually file a suit in court. However, before taking any action, it is critical to speak with an attorney who can ensure that you are taking the proper steps that will not jeopardize your claim.
Call Our Employment Law Attorneys Today
At Lindquist Wood Edwards LLP, we strongly believe that people should be paid for their work and understand how stressful it can be to not receive your final paycheck. For these reasons, we dedicate ourselves to aggressively helping our clients collect what they are owed. For an evaluation of your own case, please call us at (214) 760-6893 today.