Q: I am in California and my employer took 2 weeks to pay my final check and has yet to pay my bonus three weeks later.
I work in California and my employer is headquarted in North Carolina. They did not give my final pay upon termination, but ran it through their next scheduled pay period, making it late. My last day was December 31, they terminated my whole team. I recieved my final pay January 13. They still have not paid my bonus. During my last bonus cycle in the Fall, they removed money for something that was not part of my metrics. They also deducted money from my final checks for my fleet vehicle, which they had already picked up. In addition, today, January 25th, I still have not received anything regarding COBRA and have learned my health insurance termed 12/31/2023.
I am now finding out I was one of the lower paid employers even though I have the more education than most others. Higher bonuses were paid based on personal relationships rather than professional metrics.
If you worked for a non-governmental employer, your employer was legally required to pay all earned wages on the day you were terminated. Because this company is not based in California it likely is not aware of the very protective laws for employees here. Nonetheless, if you can prove that the company willfully failed to provide your last paycheck in a timely manner, you are entitled to Waiting Time Penalties equal to one day of pay for each day you were made to wait for the final check, up to a total of 30 additional days of pay.
Bonuses that were owed at the time of termination can fall within that requirement. However, bonuses that were not due at the time of your termination do not fall into the requirement that they be paid on termination. The terms of the bonus plan will control when those payments are required to be paid, and it is possible that if the bonus plan so states, that you would not be entitled to a bonus if you are no longer with the company. More therefore would need to be known about the terms of your bonus plan.
As to bonuses being paid based on personal relationships, that is not unlawful unless it can be proved that the real reason for the difference in payment terms is your membership in a protected class of people.
Good luck to you.
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Go to the California labor commissioner's website (https://www.dir.ca.gov/) where you can file a claim for your unpaid wages and any penalties you may have coming to you due to your employer's failure to comply with California law.
You can start your claim right on the website. The Labor Commissioner's job is to make sure that all employees get everything they are entitled to receive from their employers. Their office will represent you and make sure you get paid everything your former employer owes you, including any applicable penalties and interest.
Under California law, an employer must pay an employee all wages owed, including final pay and any earned bonuses, immediately upon termination or resignation. If an employer fails to pay an employee in a timely manner, the employee may be entitled to penalty pay. Additionally, an employer cannot make any unauthorized deductions from an employee's pay.
Regarding your bonus, if it is part of your employment contract or compensation agreement, you may be entitled to it under California law. You may want to speak with an employment law attorney to discuss your options for pursuing the unpaid bonus.
As for COBRA, under federal law, an employer must provide employees with notice of their right to continue health coverage under COBRA after a qualifying event, such as termination. If you have not received notice of your COBRA rights, you may want to contact your former employer's human resources department to request the information. If you are not provided with the required notice, you may have legal options to pursue.
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