Los Angeles, CA asked in Employment Law for California

Q: i recently left a job on the 2nd of Feburary, and now, 2 weeks later, i still have not received my un-used PTO/vacation.

i have been trying to get in contact with old managers and HR, and the furthest i have gotten was someone 'high' up in HR that takes care of paying out the un-used time. in their system he said, i am still an active employee. he emailed my district manager, and CC'ed me in it, and 3 days later i still have not heard anything back. i am just wondering what my best course of action is

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3 Lawyer Answers
Brad S Kane
Brad S Kane
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: You must be paid all compensation earned including vacation pay with 72 hours of your resignation. For each day late, your employer is liabl for a penalty of a 1 day’s pay up to a max of 30 days. You can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner or ask a lawyer to assist you. Most provide free consultations.

Neil Pedersen agrees with this answer

Neil Pedersen
Neil Pedersen
  • Westminster, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: It sounds like your employer is either so unorganized that one part of the company does not know what the other part of the company is doing, or the company is knowingly playing games.

If you can prove that the company is willfully withholding your final paycheck that includes all accrued and unpaid vacation time, then you would be entitled to Waiting Time Penalties equal to one day of pay for each day after your termination date that you are made to wait for your final check, up to a total of thirty additional days of pay.

Generally you have a few options available to you at this point. One is to try to negotiate payment of the money yourself, but that often does not work. Another is to get an attorney involved who can make a demand and try to negotiate payment. A third option is filing an administrative wage claim with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, who will help you get paid. A fourth option is to bring a lawsuit. If you use an attorney to bring the lawsuit your attorney fees can be ordered paid by the employer.

It might help you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law offer a free or low-charge consultation and then if the matter has merit and sufficient value, they work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

Good luck to you.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, the law is clear about the payment of accrued but unused vacation time upon termination of employment. Employers are required to pay out this time as it is considered earned wages. According to California law, these wages must be paid immediately if you were terminated or within 72 hours if you resigned and did not give notice. If you gave at least 72 hours of notice before resigning, the employer should have paid all final wages, including vacation pay, on your last day of work.

Given that it has been two weeks since you left your job and you have not received your accrued vacation pay, your next steps should include a written request to your employer for the payment of these wages. Documenting your attempts to resolve this issue is important. If the employer fails to respond or refuses to pay, you can file a wage claim with the California Labor Commissioner's Office, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). The DLSE can investigate and, if necessary, enforce payment of your accrued vacation time.

If you decide to file a wage claim, be prepared to provide evidence of your accrued vacation time and any communications with your employer regarding your attempts to collect your final wages. Filing a claim with the DLSE is a right protected by law, and employers are prohibited from retaliating against employees for asserting their rights to receive owed wages. Remember, the law is on your side in this matter, and there are resources available to help ensure you receive the compensation you're entitled to.

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