What can I do if I was not given a full last weeks pay like I was promised?

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What can I do if I was not given a full last weeks pay like I was promised?

I feel that I was wrongly terminated from my job. I had no warning and was not given a truly valid reason for my termination. When I was terminated I was told I would get my last full weeks of pay but did not’ I only got 2 days of pay. I was not given a valid good reason for my termination, nor a warning and was given no time or opportunity to speak in defense or explanation. What are my rights?

Asked on April 20, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Minnesota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you did not have a written employment contract limiting the grounds for which you could be fired or guarantying you employment for some term or period of time, you were an employee at will. An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, without notice or explanation. In short, if you did not have an employment contract, the reason for your termination does not need to be a "valid good reason" and the employer does not need to provide you a warning or a chance to speak in your defense or offer an explanation--the employer can simply fire you.

However, even in that case, you must be paid for all work you actually did. If you worked for an entire week, you should be paid for all the days you worked--there is no legal basis for withholding some of  your pay. If the employer will not pay you, you could sue the employer for your money; it would probably make sense to sue in small claims court, acting as your own attorney. Even without a written employment agreement, the lawsuit would be based in breach of contract--the (presumably) oral agreement or terms under which you worked, and which required you be paid at the agreed-upon rate for all work you did.


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