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Is my employer allowed to withhold my final wages after firing me?

No. The California Labor Code states that an employee who is fired must be paid all of their wages immediately at the time of termination. The final paycheck should include all earned and unpaid wages, as well as accrued vacation, bonuses or commissions if applicable.

An employee can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner’s Office if he or she does not receive their final paycheck from their employer. Employers must pay a “waiting time” penalty for willful failure to pay final wages immediately upon termination. The penalty accrues at the employee’s average daily wage for a maximum of 30 days. The 30-day period includes weekends, holidays and other days the employee would not usually work.

When calculating the penalty, overtime wages are included only if the employee had regularly scheduled overtime each week. The penalty stops accruing once the employer pays the outstanding wages, or the employee decides to file a complaint in court to recover the unpaid wages with the help of an attorney.

If you are owed wages, suspect you are wrongly classified as exempt, or any other overtime, minimum wage or other wage error by your employer, McCormack & Erlich has an extensive background helping individuals with wage claims to recover their damages.

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