Can my employer withhold my final paycheck?

UPDATED: Nov 9, 2012

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Can my employer withhold my final paycheck?

According to state law, an employer must immediately issue a final paycheck to a terminated employee or within 6 hours of the beginning of the next business day if the payroll office is closed. Additionally, if the payroll office is offsite, then the employer must issue the final paycheck to the terminated employee within 24 hours of his or her termination. An employee who quits his or her job is not entitled to a final paycheck until the next regularly scheduled pay date. My formal employer states that someone saw me drinking on the job. Even if this were true, what rights do they have to continue to hold my paycheck? I was terminated 3 days ago and today is the normal payday but they are still refusing to pay me.

Asked on November 9, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that there are are no circumstances under which an employer can totally withhold an employee's final paycheck. As a general rule, employers are typically required to issue a final paycheck containing compensation for all earned and unpaid wages.

If the event that an employee is unable to obtain their final paycheck from their ex-employer, the employee can file a complaint with the Department of Labor & Employment, Division of Labor or they can sue the employer.  

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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