Can my previous employer sue me for my last paycheck after I was laid off?

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Can my previous employer sue me for my last paycheck after I was laid off?

I was laid off and given my 2 weeks notice but in my letter (notice) it stated that my employer will pay me through the end of the month and my last day was the 15th. However, I am allowed to work until the end of the month. I did not go back to work after the15th and he threaten me saying he will sue me for the pay he paid me of the last 2 weeks since I did not come. Can he take me to small claims court and sue or is this bogus? Also in my 2 week noticed it stated the word terminated but i understood it as laid off because I was given 2 weeks (last day the 15th) and employer signed letter.

Asked on June 19, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If he paid you in advance to perform work and you failed to perform that work, then yes he could sue you -- essentially for breach of contract or a failure to perform agreed services.   However, the wording of the letter as you describe really makes it look like he was offering you a severance package-- once he's given you the money as part of a severance, he can't undo the deal and then sue to get you to return it.  The wording of the letter will control the exact result, but other factors could influence the intent of the agreement-- most importantly your regular payday.  If you were paid in advance on a regular basis, he would have a better argument for suing for non-performance.  If you were paid after work was completed, like most employees are, then you have an even better argument that the payment he gave you was a severance package.  Regardless of what happens, save your prior pay stubbs and this letter.  Just because he won't prevail, doesn't mean that he won't try to sue you.... so make sure you keep your best pieces of evidence handy in the event he does decide to sue.


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