Can I sue my boss for paying me under the table after signing a release of claims?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I sue my boss for paying me under the table after signing a release of claims?

Ive asked my boss who is the owner of
the company multiple times to put me
on the payroll so I could get direct
deposit and have taxes come out of my
check so I could get social security
benefits, apply for unemployment
insurance if need be, etc. But my boss
refused. It wasn’t until recently when
I was let go that I became aware that I
could sue my boss for paying me under
the table I’ve been getting paid via
personal checks. Before I was let go
however, I signed a release of claims
without really knowing what it was. So
can I still sue my boss for tax fraud
or whatever it may be called if I
signed a release of claims? If not can
I still report my boss to the IRS?

Asked on August 21, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

*You* would not sue your boss for tax fraud in any event--it's the IRS and/or the state tax agency that enforces the tax laws, not private citizens. You can report any nonpayment of taxes to the IRS or state and they may take action; of course, if *you* have not paid all the taxes that you should have, you may be effectively informing on yourself as well, since regardless of whether your boss remited the taxes he should have, you still had an obligation to make sure your taxes were paid. So if you took the under the table payments without paying taxes, you will have broken the tax laws, too.
If you signed a release of claims, those are generally enforceable; you may not be able to sue if the terms of the release prevent you. (You have to check the exact terms: these agreements are enforceable as per their terms.)

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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