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Laid off and employer behind in paying me North Carolina

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  • Laid off and employer behind in paying me North Carolina

    I was let go from six years of full time employment this week because, in this recession, there isn't enough billable work to keep me busy.

    The problem is compounded by having not received a month's worth (4 weeks) of paychecks that I should have already received. The checks were issued on time to comply with the government paperwork, but the employer has been sitting on each of our paychecks for two to six weeks each for over a year now so that he can dip into payroll money to pay down some of his family's debt. My family, on the other hand, has had to deal with late fees and fines, breaks in utility service, and children going without required medicine because of this situation.

    Does North Carolina have a bureau that will aid me in getting that money, or helping the employees left behind get their money? Or do I have to wait until I'm employed again and can afford a private lawyer, hoping that my former employer is still in business by then?

    I realize that this is a "right to work" state, which is a euphemism for "a small step above slavery", but it doesn't seem that it would be legal for a company's owner to dip into payroll that way -- even a small company.

  • #2
    Right to work means that you can't be forced to join a union to get work. What you mean is employment at will - and just so you know, 49 out of 50 states are employment at will and the 50th (Montana) recognizes the at-will doctrine in some situations.

    You can file a complaint of unpaid wages with the state Department of Labor. You might want to keep an old adage about blood and turnips in mind.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    • #3
      I had the "blood from turnips" discussion with the fellow employees yesterday.

      My only worry is that now I'm out of sight, I may become out of mind, and the employer might decide he will only give owed pay to current employees, so they'll be strung along to finance his grown offspring's mortgage and recreational equipment.

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      • #4
        There is a tactic of applying for unemployment immediately, collecting it until I get the back pay awarded by the Dept. of Labor, and letting the state get stuck with bleeding the turnip.

        "Effect of Back Pay Awards on Benefit Eligibility
        Claimants are not eligible for unemployment benefits during periods covered by back pay awards. If a claimant who received unemployment payments subsequently receives a back pay award that covers the same period, the Commission establishes an overpayment. The employer is required by law to deduct the amount of the overpayment from the back pay award and forward those monies to the Commission to resolve the overpayment." -- NCESC website

        However, if the employer actually does send me those checks before a case can be established, I might end up in trouble.

        Lesson learned: Next time I think I'm going for direct deposit, so an employer can't pretend to pay me and not actually do it.

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        • #5
          But what that says is that, if you do get the wages due for a period for which you received UI benefits, that YOU have to pay it back, either out of future UI benefits (if there are any) or in a lump sum or via a payment plan.
          I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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          • #6
            You can file with the NC DOL regardless of whether you are still employed or not. And sooner is better than later. In the event that they end up filing for bankrupcy, you want your claim on record.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Pattymd View Post
              But what that says is that, if you do get the wages due for a period for which you received UI benefits, that YOU have to pay it back, either out of future UI benefits (if there are any) or in a lump sum or via a payment plan.
              I don't mind that, as long as the employer can't trick me into a violation of the law (and fines) by suddenly paying up.

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              • #8
                How would paying you what you are owed trick you into any kind of a violation?

                I don't know, this is beginning to sound like you're more concerned with suing your employer than you are with being paid.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by cbg View Post
                  And sooner is better than later.
                  You are correct. NC protects the employer for 10 days from the date the money was due before I can file a claim, which means I would have to wait until next week to include all the checks that are behind.

                  I also may want to wait until my unemployment insurance eligibility status is established, too, to avoid spiteful retaliation. But it seems I should claim the back pay as soon as I'm clear of vulnerability.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by cbg View Post
                    How would paying you what you are owed trick you into any kind of a violation?

                    I don't know, this is beginning to sound like you're more concerned with suing your employer than you are with being paid.
                    If I file immediately for UI and later have collected unemployment to cover the period I'm not getting paid, rather than waiting for my leftover vacation pay and last week of work has passed, I just want to make sure that I'm not in trouble for collecting UI if my employer nullifies a back pay claim by paying up before the Dept of Labor acts.

                    Of course this sounds convoluted, but I'm finding the ESC rules to be convoluted, as well, with many pitfalls that would have claimants dotting all the i's and crossing all their t's for fear of getting denied.

                    I am concerned about suing because I may have to sue, and don't really want to. I would rather avoid it altogether, let them continue to operate, and concentrate on finding a new job. It's hard to concentrate when you're cold and hungry, however, and I may soon be.

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                    • #11
                      If you file for UI and are approved on the basis that you have not been paid, and later you receive back pay, while you may (or may not) have to repay the UI benefits, you will not be in any trouble for filing. You filed in good faith. You are not committing fraud as long as you understand that if and when you receive back pay, you will most likely need to repay the UI office.
                      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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                      • #12
                        cbg - correct me if I'm wrong, but if it is pay due for a previous work week, not during the time that the former employee is collecting UI, why would there be repayment required? While they are receiving money, they aren't receiving it for any work completed in that week - it is old money due to them.

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                        • #13
                          I'm not saying it WOULD. I'm saying it COULD BE. I'm not the ALJ nor am I in NC. I'm not going to make him any promises I can't keep.

                          But payback or no payback, he's still not going to be in violation of anything by filing for a week in which he hasn't been paid.
                          The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Because UI isn't really responsible for paying back wages. The employer is. So if I eventually get paid, then I have to repay UI; or instead of paying me, the employer would have to reimburse UI for fronting me the money. The UI money for back pay is essentially a loan.

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                            • #15
                              I'm still not seeing it but that is obviously just me. I'm clearly missing something important.

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