There is nothing worse than an employer who accepts the labor of a worker and then refuses to pay the worker.
Under Washington law, all wages owed to a departing employee must be paid at the end of the next established pay period. This means employers have to pay departing employees all wages owed on the next regular pay day following the termination date.
Washington law defines the term "wages" as "compensation due to an employee by reason of employment.” This can include wages below the minimum wage, being forced work off the clock, overtime pay, hourly wages, salary, commissions as well as unused accrued PTO and vacation pay, and in some cases severance pay.
Workers in Washington State should know that the law is very pro-employee in this arena. In as recent case, one Washington court explained: "[Washington’s] wage statutes were enacted to prevent abuses by employers in the labor-management setting, and they reflect the legislature's strong policy in favor of payment of wages to employees. . . . The “‘fundamental purpose of the legislation, as expressed in both the title and body of the act, is to protect the wages of an employee against any diminution or deduction therefrom by rebating, underpayment, or false showing of overpayment of any part of such wages.’” . . . Thus, these wage statutes must be liberally construed to advance the legislature's intent to protect employee wages and assure payment." (Internal citations omitted).
By statute, employers who fail to pay wages owed to employees can be held liable to the employee for two times the amount of unpaid wages, plus the attorney fees the employee incurs pursuing the recovery of the unpaid wages.
Unpaid wage liability can attach to the company employer, and officers or agent of the employer. So, even if the company goes out of business and has no funds, the employee can recover unpaid wages from the company's officers and managers.
Washington employees are also protected from retaliation if they speak up to their employer to enforce their rights.
If you are a worker in Washington that has not been paid all wages you are owed by your employer , contact Mark D. Walters.