Has your employer asked you to sign some new agreement to obtain your paycheck? Has your final pay been withheld from you until you agree to sign some type of release agreement? Does the release mention California Civil Code section 1542? Have you been asked to sign a document detailing your hours worked which your employer knows to be incorrect and/or fraudulent?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have a claim against your employer for violation of California Labor Code section 206.5. That statute provides as follows:
“(a) An employer shall not require the execution of a release of a claim or right on account of wages due, or to become due, or made as an advance on wages to be earned, unless payment of those wages has been made. A release required or executed in violation of the provisions of this section shall be null and void as between the employer and the employee. Violation of this section by the employer is a misdemeanor.
(b) For purposes of this section, “execution of a release” includes requiring an employee, as a condition of being paid, to execute a statement of the hours he or she worked during a pay period which the employer knows to be false.”
As the language of this statute implies, your employer must pay all wages you have earned and cannot withhold those wages in order to coerce you into signing a new contract or release of your legal claims (if any) against your employer. As sub-division (b) states, this includes being forced to sign an agreement acknowledging a log of your hours worked which the employer knows to be false.
If you have been asked to sign such an agreement, let your employer know (in writing) that you refuse to sign any new agreement, that you believe the request violates Labor Code section 206.5, and that you demand immediate payment of your wages in spite of your refusal to sign.
If you have already signed such an agreement, never fear. The agreement is null and void under sub-division (b) and the employer is guilty of a misdemeanor.
If you want to talk to an employment lawyer about your case, please visit our Contact Us page and complete our online intake.