What can I do when my employer doesn’t pay me on time and then not have any funds in its account when I finally get my paycheck?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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What can I do when my employer doesn’t pay me on time and then not have any funds in its account when I finally get my paycheck?

I work for security and this company isn’t paying most of the employees. My 2 partners and I work at the same site that we patrol and all 3 of us I are having paycheck problems. Every time we go to cash them at a cashing place or a bank, we get nervous because we’re afraid and embarrassed that the money isn’t in there.This has been going on for awhile now.

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you must be paid the full amount due you. If you are not, you have the right to sue your employer for both any amounts not paid as well as for any costs or losses directly traceable to late payment (for example, if you incur a late charge for rent, or interest on a credit card, because you cannot pay on time) or to non-payment or insufficient funds (like a dishonored check fee or overdraft protection fee).

Practically, having to sue your employer has many disadvantages--such as the cost to do so (though this is minimized by filing in small claims court and acting as your own attorney); the distraction, time involved, stress; etc.; and the chance that if the employer is truly insolvent, even if you win, you won't recover anything--you can't get paid if there's no money. If this has been "going on for some time," it's  time to look for another position, if at all possible; as someone who has worked for struggling business as well as been their attorney, it is my experience that situations like this rarely get better, but usually instead escalate or get worse over time.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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