What do I do if my paycheck bounced and the check cashing store wants its money back?

I worked for a company and have been paid by the month. Things seemed to be OK at first but then we lost our contract and I waited for almost a month before I got half of my last check from the boss (who apparently fell hard on times because he was evading taxes and the IRS took his money). He still owes me the other half but I cashed my check at a check cashing place because the bank was closed and I needed the money. Now the check cashing place called me yesterday and said that it bounced and they are demanding I pay the money back which I don’t have because I spent it on rent.

Asked on December 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) If your check bounced, you have to repay it, even if it was not your fault that it bounced: you received money from the check-cashing place, and if they don't get their money (the check bounces), you have to return it, even if you don't have it for the best of reasons (e.g. rent). They can sue you if you don't return the money, so your best bet may be to work out a repayment plan you can afford.
2) You can sue your former boss for any unpaid wages and any costs (e.g. connected with the check bouncing) you incurred because he did not pay as he was supposed to; however, bear in mind that if he has no money, you won't get paid--it doesn't matter if you're legally in the right if the other side has nothing to pay you with. It's worth suing on a "pro se" (as your own attorney) basis, since the cost to do so is so low that you are risking almost nothing; but you have to be prepared that you might win the case but still be unable to collect.


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