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I've tried cashing a paycheck several times and the bank said there are insufficient funds.

Bedford, MA |

I asked the bank if I could file a complaint, but they said there is nothing they can do. Can they bank take any action against the check writer? What are my other options?

Attorney Answers 4


  1. One option is to sue your employer for breach of contract. In the alternative you can likely sue for what's called "quantum meruit" / Unjust enrichment. Depending on how much money you are owed you may be able to sue in the Small claims session of the District Court. Before you sue, however, it may be a good idea to have an attorney draft a 30 day demand letter, which may be able to resolve the issue before having to file suit. If you do decide to pursue this option I recommend having an attorney draft the paperwork for you.


  2. If the check is from an employer, you may wish to begin the job hunt as a check that can be cashed due to insufficient funds certainly raises red flags. I would speak to the check writer and ask for reasons why. I would certainly make a copy of the check or refuse to release the original check. Hopefully, they just wrote the check from the wrong account. If they refuse to provide you with a check that you can cash, then it is a basic case of you performing work and not being paid for that work. Your next step should be to file a claim in small claims court based on the employer's failure to pay you according to a contract or, if there is no contract, sue them based on unjust enrichment (i.e. they got the benefit of your services without paying for the services). Best of luck!

    The content of this answer should not be relied upon or used as a subsitute for consultation with professional advisors and it should be clearly understood that no attorney-client privilege has been created. A more complete answer and/or more accurate answer can only be provided in a more thorough examination of the facts in a consultation with my firm.


  3. Most states have a "labor commissioner" or other agency that regulates compliance with the federal and state wage laws. A bad paycheck is something that this agency can help to resolve, so contact your state government to ask the friendly operator who to speak with. Hope this perspective helps!


  4. In Massachusetts it is unlawful for an employer to fail to pay you for the hours you have worked. More specifically it is a violation of the wage an hour law M.G.L. c 149, Section 148. You can file a complaint with the State Attorney General. They will likely then give you a right to file a private cause of action. However, it should be noted that in MA, an intentional violation of this law is subject to triple damages and all attorney fees. Due to the fee shift provision of the law, it is worth you while to speak to an experienced attorney who handles these types of cases, where there fees may be paid by your employer.