Every time you clock in at work you complete the requirements of the job with the expectation that you will be compensated for your work in a timely manner.
In most cases a company will have a set pay schedule unless the employees are independent contractors, in which case there could be a different pay schedule or pay procedure.
What’s important is that you are paid on time. The reality is that most workers live paycheck to paycheck, and when a check is delayed or withheld, or if it bounces, it causes a huge headache for workers and their families.
Barring unforeseen circumstances like natural disasters, bank holidays and weekends, paychecks should be delivered on time and the funds should be available.
But what happens when you receive a paycheck that bounces? What happens if you are signed up to receive direct deposit and it does not go through?
Does a bounced paycheck constitute wage theft? Here is what you need to know!
Is This Wage Theft?
Wage theft is an umbrella term for any time an employee is not paid for work that has been completed. It includes minimum wage violations, not being paid overtime, not giving employees their final paycheck when they leave the job, not paying a worker for all of the hours worked and, finally, not paying a worker at all.
If your paycheck bounces, then it would fall under not being paid at all and that would indeed be considered wage theft, but there are steps to take before filing a complaint. You need to rule out that this was an oversight or an error, as in that case it would not be wage theft. If your employer fixes the mistake and pays you immediately, then you do not need to proceed.
However, if your employer ignores your request to be paid after the check bounces then it would very likely be wage theft and you need to take action.
What To Do If Your Paycheck Bounces
Once your paycheck bounces, you should contact your employer immediately to find out what happened. It could be as simple as a human error and an honest mistake.
If your employer rectifies the situation right away then you should be good to go.
If the situation is not fixed immediately and your employer is not responding to your inquiries, then you need to create a paper trail so that you can demonstrate that you were not paid and you made an attempt to resolve the situation but nothing happened.
Include the payment schedule, when you should have been paid, when you were notified by the bank that your paycheck was returned, any fees you paid because of the returned check and a copy of all communication you had with your employer about the situation.
At this point, if your employer has not rectified the situation then this is indeed wage theft and you need to file a complaint with the United States Department of Labor.
How A Lawyer Can Help
When you file a complaint for wage theft against your employer, you have the option of meeting with a representative at the Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to file your claim. Make sure you have all of the relevant information about the situation with you so that WHD can make a determination and help you recover your pay.
You can also file a private lawsuit against your employer. In both cases the same result can be achieved: You can receive your pay and recover any damages (fees, etc) sustained as a result of your bounced paycheck.
While you can pursue both of these options without the help of a lawyer, and though there is no guarantee that hiring a lawyer will guarantee that you will win your case, hiring an employment law attorney can greatly increase your chances of success.
It can be a very stressful situation to deal with a wage theft case in general, let alone on your own, and so having someone helping you along the way can make a huge difference.
An employment law attorney knows how the system works and he can help you to determine the plan of action that best suits your needs.
You don’t need to worry about paying up front for lawyer fees because when it comes to employment law cases the employer pays all attorney fees.
That makes it even easier for you to work with an expert in employment matters so that you can recover your paycheck and receive all applicable damages and remedies sustained as a result of the case.
You can fill out a case evaluation form to receive information about how an employment law attorney can help you.