Can my previous employer hold my last paycheck for 6 months after I leave the company?

UPDATED: Sep 29, 2022

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Can my previous employer hold my last paycheck for 6 months after I leave the company?

I was a 100% commissioned employee and my boss wants to hold my final paycheck for 180 days.

Asked on October 16, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Unlike many states, your state does not have a hard and fast rule about when a final paycheck should be paid. Typically, it's paid when the next payroll would be run for most employees, and a failure to pay it then--or at most, the period after that--would likely be unreasonable and give rise to the ability to sue for the money. You write, however, that you are a commissioned employee. Employers can debit chargebacks, bad debts, returns, etc. from commissions. For current employees, an adjustment due to a late return or bad debt can be corrected on a future check, so there's not too much exposure for the employer. But if you left the company, then there are no future checks to use to make the adjustment therefore, the employer is likely justified in holding the check for the typical period of time it would take to make sure there are no chargebacks, returns, unpaid bills or bad debts, etc., to make sure they don't overpay you. If the 180-day period is close to how long that would usually take, then the delay in payment is probably justified and could be difficult to beat in court. Unless you are desparate for the money, waiting the 180 days may be your best option.

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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