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Key points about wages and unemployment after being fired

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Wage And Hour Laws

It is never pleasant when a California worker is fired from his or her job. In recent years, there has been significant discussion about wrongful termination, discrimination, retaliation, harassment and other legal violations being factors in an employee’s dismissal. However, there are times when an employee is simply let go. This is problematic for them in myriad ways, but it does not necessarily mean there is the basis for a legal filing for employer wrongdoing. Still, employees have certain rights regarding pay and unemployment benefits. If the employer does not follow the law, then this could be the foundation for lodging a claim to get what is owed.

Understanding the law for final pay and severance

Employers must follow certain requirements with final pay, severance pay and unemployment insurance. For final pay, all wages must be paid when the termination takes place. That not only includes normal hourly wages or salary but unused vacation pay. Regarding sick leave, the employer is not obligated to pay for any sick leave that has accumulated and was left unused. Even if a worker quits, he or she must still be paid. If there was no contract with defined terms and the employee quits, the employee must be paid within 72 hours. For employees who did give notice of a minimum of 72 hours, the wages must be paid when he or she quits. If 72-hours’ notice was not provided, the wages can be sent to a mailing address.

Employers can face penalties for not following the law for final pay. Willful failure to make the necessary payments can result in continuing wages being paid for up to 30 days. There is a formula that is used to calculate the amount. The employer may claim a “good faith” attempt to make those payments and use that as a defense. If there is a dispute in this matter, it is important to have experienced assistance in sifting through the facts and forging a solution. The employer is not free from making the payments even during the dispute.

For some jobs, employees are entitled to severance pay. This is not required, but might be part of an agreement the parties had. In general, it stems from how long the employee worked for the employer and tenets of eligibility.

Am I entitled to unemployment insurance?

Unemployment insurance is a necessity when people have lost their jobs and are seeking new employment. The challenges of the past two years exemplify how essential unemployment insurance is. In general, employees in the Golden State are entitled to unemployment insurance if they are terminated. Despite that, there are factors that could render a former employee ineligible for unemployment insurance. If the person quit without good cause; was terminated for willful misconduct; or refused to accept suitable work, then there might be a denial of benefits. Regarding willful misconduct, if the employee ignored the rules of the workplace, did not live up to the standards of behavior or was negligent, then this could result in the unemployment claim being refused. This may be a matter of perspective and those who are denied unemployment should be prepared to explain their side. There may have been a justifiable reason for the behavior.

Fired workers should remember they have the right to receive what they are owed

Often, a terminated employee is reeling from having lost their job and is fearful as to what the future might hold. It could be a blue-collar job or a corporate job. Regardless, employment law is designed to protect everyone. These worries may be exacerbated by the former employer making life as difficult as possible with illegal or questionable behavior in trying to keep from making final payments for work, causing obstacles with unemployment and making untrue assertions regarding the circumstances under which the person left the job. To make sure employers are held accountable, it is useful to have advice from people experienced in state employment cases. This can make the difference in getting what a former worker is entitled to.


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