Is it considered blackmail if my former employer refuses to release my final pay to me?

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Is it considered blackmail if my former employer refuses to release my final pay to me?

I recently quit my job, and due to unforeseen circumstances I could not make it to my last shift. I had notified a manger about the situation but they failed to notify the general manager. She is now threatening to withhold my final pay, even though I gave a 2 week notice because I did not speak/notify her directly. There is also no contracts, nor anything in the provided employee handbook that stipulates that she can do so. Is it considered blackmail if she is threatening to do so, and what can I do about this situation?

Asked on September 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

It is probably not blackmail or extortion per se, among other reasons because it seems that she is not actually trying to extort anything or any behavior from you--she's just trying to punish you.

However, it is still illegal: an employer has no right to withhold lawfully earned wages for a reason like this (or indeed, for almost any reason; even when the employer has a cause of action against the employee--such as for theft or destruction of property--it generally must pay wages, though it may also sue for the damages). Therefore, you may sue the employer and the supervisor herself for the money or wages which you earned and which they refuse to pay; you may wish to consider a suit in small claims court (representing yourself) to reduce costs. Good luck.


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