There are laws in place in California and other areas to protect workers. If an employer owes back pay to an employee, they must pay it.
Back pay explained
Per the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), employers must pay workers timely during regularly scheduled paydays. Back pay is payment employers owe employees when they fail to pay them during a regularly schedule payday. For example, if a company is experiencing cash flow issues and cannot afford to pay its employees on the date they are due their paycheck, the money owed is considered back pay.
Back pay must include whatever pay the employee is due at the time of the payment plus the pay they were entitled to at the previous payday. There are many reasons why an employer might owe workers back pay. In addition to cash flow problems, it could be due to a mistake like misplaced paperwork or a deliberate illegal reason of withholding an employee’s paycheck. Sometimes, the employee doesn’t receive pay that’s rightfully theirs if they have been wrongfully terminated.
Employees can sue for unpaid back pay
An employer can be held accountable for failing to pay an employee back pay. The employee is entitled to file a claim through the Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, which enforces the FLSA. Once a claim is filed, the WHD will investigate it and determine whether the employer has violated wage laws.
A private lawsuit can be brought forward by the employee unless there is already an action in place by the Secretary of Labor, the statute of limitations, two years, have passed or they have already received back pay through a complaint to the WHD.