Many employment contracts in San Diego and throughout the state of California are presumed to be "at-will" unless stated otherwise. This means an employer may choose to terminate an employee for almost any reason or even no reason.
Although employers may choose to fire employees without providing workers with a good reason for doing so, employers may be held accountable for breaking the law when terminating employees if discrimination or retaliation contributes to employers' decisions to fire employees. Employers could also be violating employees' rights when firing workers if they do not compensate employees for all of their hours worked prior to leaving a company.
Employees need to understand that when they walk off of the job or are fired, even when they end their employment on terms that are less than ideal, employees are still entitled to be compensated for their hours worked. When employers fail to pay employees for their last hours worked, employers may be held accountable for violating employment laws.
According to employment and labor laws, employers in California have up to 72 hours to compensate employees for all of their hours worked after employees quit or are fired. If employers fail to compensate employees for their hours worked within 72 hours, employers may end up having to pay unpaid workers even more money.
Unpaid employees may be eligible to receive compensation for each day up to 30 days that exceeds the 72-hour limit for employers to compensate employees who have recently been terminated. Before workers are eligible to obtain this compensation, though, they will need to file a form with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. In some cases, employees may not receive the compensation they are entitled to receive for several months because employers may have the option to dispute a claim for unpaid wages.
Source: San Diego Union-Tribune, "Stiffed at work? Here's what you can do," Jonathan Horn, March 12, 2013
- Our Southern California firm handles a variety of complex employment law and job rights issues, including complaints about unpaid wages and wrongful termination. To learn more about employees' rights and protecting your rights in the workplace, please visit our San Diego employment law attorneys page.