What to do about unpaid wages?

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What to do about unpaid wages?

My employers said they were having financial issues, so many of our checks were late. We were paid 2x a month. I only received the last of my check for last month about 2 weeks ago, and have not received any pay for this month. Then, a week ago I showed up for work and the locks had been changed, I texted “locks changed?” with no response. Text messages were a major way of communication between us. Other than waiting 30 days for the wage claim that I have filed with the state, do I have any recourse? This was my only form of income.

Asked on September 26, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have to be paid for all work you actually did, pursuant to the terms under which you were working. If  the employer does not pay you voluntarily, you may sue to get your money; so you have the option of filing a lawsuit to get the pay for this month for the work you've done to date (as an alternative to the wage claim); however, this is not likely to get you the money that fast, since lawsuits take time. You'll also have the cost of the suit.

As for the job itself  and forward looking (i.e future) wages, or wages for work you've not yet done--unless you have an employment contract guarantying you pay for a certain period (e.g. a one-year contract; you'd have to be paid for that one year, except as per any terms in the contract allowing early termination), you are an employee at will and may be terminated or laid off, etc. at will. That means that you most likely have no grounds to continue to work or be paid--just to recover the wages earned to date which have not been paid yet.


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