When Should I Get My Final Paycheck? What If I Don’t Receive My Final Paycheck?
Many employees have been laid off, furloughed or terminated as a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis. In these tough economic times, money is one of the first things on our minds and people want to know when they will receive their final paycheck. People also want to know about their legal rights if they do not receive their final paycheck. The answers to these questions depend on the state where the employer is located. This post will address the timing of final paychecks for employees separated from their jobs – and the legal remedies if not timely paid – in the states of West Virginia and Pennsylvania.
West Virginia Employers
The West Virginia Wage Payment and Collection Act, W.Va. Code §21-5-1, et. seq., states that if you are separated from employment, then all remaining wages and fringe benefits you earned must be paid to you on or before the next regular payday. It does not matter whether you were laid off, furloughed, terminated or quit. Once the time period for the payment of final wages has passed, the law gives no excuses to an employer in West Virginia.
If the West Virginia employer fails to issue the employee his or her final paycheck by the next regular payday, then the employer can be held liable in court for (1) all unpaid wages and benefits due, (2) liquidated damages in two times the amount of the unpaid wages and benefit and (3) reasonable attorney fees and costs for the employee who succeeds in his or her claim.
For example, if an employee has unpaid wages and benefits in the amount of $1,000.00, then the Court will award the employee (1) $1,000.00 for unpaid wages and (2) an additional $2,000.00 as liquidated damages ($1,000.00 x 2), for a total award of $3,000.00. The offending employer is then also required to pay the employee’s attorney fees and costs in addition to the $3,000.00 in damages awarded to the employee.
The Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law, 43 Pa C. S. §260.1, provides that if you are separated from employment, then all remaining wages and fringe benefits must be paid to you on or before the next regular payday. However, if there is a genuine dispute over the amount of wages, then the employer is required to provide written notice to the employee of the amount of wages which the employer concedes to be due and must pay such amount without condition within the time set by the law. Acceptance of any payment by the employee does not constitute a release as to any otherwise disputed amount.
The Pennsylvania law permits any employee to bring a lawsuit to recover unpaid wages, costs and reasonable attorneys’ fees. Additionally, when wages remain unpaid for 30 days beyond the regularly scheduled payday, or 60 days in certain limited circumstances, and there is no good faith contest or dispute of any wage claim, the Court will also award the employee liquidated damages in an amount equal to the greater of (a) 25% of the total amount of wages due or (b) $500.00.
For example, if an employee has unpaid wages and benefits in the amount of $1,000.00 that have not been paid for at least 30 days (or 60 days), then the Court will award the employee (1) $1,000.00 in unpaid wages and (2) an additional $500.00 as liquidated damages ($500.00 is greater than 25% of $1,000.00, which is $250.00), for a total award of $1,500.00. The offending employer is then also required to pay the employee’s attorney fees and costs in addition to the $1,500.00 in damages awarded to the employee.
The Final Word
The penalties for failing to pay final wages are harsh in both West Virginia and Pennsylvania. The main differences between the two states are that there is no waiting period to receive liquidated damages for a violation in West Virginia and liquidated damages calculations are different in each state. Both states require the former employer to pay attorney fees and costs for bringing a successful claim.
Keep in mind that these Wage Payment and Collection laws only apply to employees, and not independent contractors. However, independent contractors may be entitled to other monetary relief if they have been misclassified under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Call Us Now For Help
If you lost your job due to the coronavirus (or were otherwise separated from employment) and not been paid your final wages, then call our office now at 304-914-3577 to schedule a free and confidential consultation. You can also contact us online. We can help you receive all the wages you earned.