Know The Law

Know the Law. Know your Rights.

If your job is terminated, California labor law has specific requirements regarding final wages that ensure employees are paid promptly. According to California Labor Code section 201, if an employer discharges an employee, final wages are due immediately at the time of discharge. This includes any wages earned on the same day of termination, as well as unpaid wages for accrued vacation time.

California Labor Code §201(a) (in part): If an employer discharges an employee, the wages earned and unpaid at the time of discharge are due and payable immediately.

In some cases, an employer has 72 hours to pay employees if a group of employees are laid off due to seasonal employment or employed in particular exempt industries. However, if an employee quits, and does not have a written employment contract, the employer shall have 72 hours to pay final wages. But when at least 72-hours notice is given to employer before resignation, then final wages are due at the time of termination.

California Labor Code §202(a) (in part):  If an employee not having a written contract for a definite period quits his or her employment, his or her wages shall become due and payable not later than 72 hours thereafter, unless the employee has given 72 hours previous notice of his or her intention to quit, in which case the employee is entitled to his or her wages at the time of quitting.

Wages must be paid “at the place of discharge” according to California law. If the employee resigns, then payment can be made by mail or at the office of the employer in the same county where the employee worked. The employee must ensure the employer has a current mailing address if final wages are to be mailed, and must be available to accept final wages. In other words,

California Labor Code section §203(a) (in part): (a) If an employer willfully fails to pay, without abatement or reduction … wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the wages of the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action therefor is commenced; but the wages shall not continue for more than 30 days.

Labor laws can be complicated, and employees should consult with a qualified attorney to protect the rights guaranteed under local, state and federal law. Losing your job can be stressful, particularly if you are being involuntarily discharged. California has many laws that ensure your rights are protected, and often offer more protection than federal law.


Srourian Law Firm, with locations in Los Angeles, Westwood, Woodland Hills, and Orange County is experienced in all aspects of employment law including unpaid or late final wages upon termination and have aggressively represented employees in Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Orange, Irvine, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fullerton, Tustin, Mission Viejo, San Clemente, Garden Grove, Laguna Niguel, Brea, Fountain Valley, Aliso Viejo, Yorba Linda, Westminster, Laguna Hills, Cypress, and La Habra.

If you or someone you know suffered employment violations as not receiving final wages on time or in full in California, you may have certain employee rights under state and federal law and may be entitled to unpaid wages, interest, attorneys’ fees and costs, and/or be entitled to compensation as a part of the class action lawsuit. Please contact us to speak with one of our experienced lawyers for a free consultation.