If I quit without giving notice, can my employer withhold my final paycheck?

Asked on July 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires that employers pay wages to employees for hours they worked. Under no circumstances can an employer withhold payment of wages; ifthey do they are violating the law and there are legal penalties for this. However, while the FLSA requires that employers pay employees for hours worked, it doesn't require that employers issue a departing employee their final paycheck immediately (but does recommend that it be issued by the next regular payday). This is true whether or not notice was given(not withstanding the foregoing, state law may require that a paycheck be paid immediatley upon resignation).

Absent some sort of agreement to the contrary (i.e. employment contract, union agreement or stated company policy), most employment is what is know as "at will". This means that an employer or an employee has the right to end the working relationship at any time, for any reason, with or without notice. The fact is that the practice of giving a 2 week notice is a courtesy and not a legal requirement.

If your paycheck is withheld you can file a complaint with the US Department of Labor and with your state's labor department. Additionally, you could sue your former employer. To be fully certain of your rights, you should consult directly with a local employment law attorney.

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