Can you sue for wages paid in cash?

My employer pays most employees based on a cash

Asked on October 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can sue for unpaid or not properly paid wages or salary paid in cash, including suing for overtime which a non-exempt employee would be owed: there is nothing "magic" about cash which makes paying wages/salary in it exempt from the labor laws. Obviously, proving how much you are or were paid when there are no records is more difficult (just like it can be difficult to prove the hours you worked without time sheets or cards, etc. can be difficult), but that is practical issue which can be overcome with sufficient other evidence (e.g. bank statements, showing consistent and regular deposits commensurate with the cash wages) or credible testimony. Again, legally, you can sue for unpaid wages or unpaid overtime even if paid in cash, and so just have to worry, in terms of the case, about how you will prove what you were and were not paid.
The possible consequence to the employees is that there is no such thing as a legal "under the table" or "off the books" wage/salary: you have to pay taxes on all income earned, no matter howpaid. So if this comes to the attention of the taxing authorities as a result of any legal actions, complaints to the labor department, etc., if employees were not paying taxes on their cash wages, they could find themselves with a large retroactive tax liability.

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