What to do if I took a low salary at a new restaurant with a promised bonus but was aggressively run off and shorted on my last paycheck?

I worked 70-80 hours a week for what averaged out at just above $6 per hour. The situation became hostile and very unprofessional, and now I can’t get the owners to respond. Do I have any recourse or is it a live and learn situation?

Asked on November 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The latter part of your question is the easiest to address-- that you were shorted on your last paycheck.  Texas has payday laws which require an employer to pay an employee what they are due.  They cannot withhold amounts from your check unless by agreement (to pay for insurance premiums, for example) or by court order (like in child support cases).  If an employer fails to pay an amount that is due, you can file a claim with the Texas Workforce Commission--- not only to collect unemployment, but also to file a complaint for the non-payment of wages due. The first part of your question regarding the "promised bonus" is somewhat more difficult because it's extremely fact based.  Many employees have filed lawsuits to recover bonus but were rejected because it was just a verbal commitment or payment was contingent on continued employment--- which was after employee was let go.  If you have a written employment contract detailing the terms of the promised bonus or some other concrete document ion thereof, you may have a chance to file a lawsuit to recover the bonus.  Keep in mind, however, that if the bonus is not a signficant  amount, then a lawsuit may be somewhat cost ineffective.  However, the middle part of your question references being "aggressively run off"  and that it became "hostile".  These are general buzz words that tend to be used in a discrimination lawsuit, but before you can pursue this type of remedy, you will need to show that you were discriminated against for an impermissible purpose.  This would include bias because of your age, your race, your gender, or your status as a whistle blower.  Because your remedies, if any, turn a great deal of fact specific details, you should try to arrange for at least a consultation with an employment law attorney so that they can go through your paperwork and the reasons for your "termination" (being run off), and see what options are applicable to your situation.

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