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I was fired and the company did not bother to look at my federal exemptions they just entered 1 for my final check. Is this ok?

San Jose, CA |

The owner did not go to my file or the payroll company and check what my actual exemption was. I am wondering if this is legal?

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Attorney answers 3


You should be able to recover whatever extra you paid in taxes when you file your tax returns and get a refund.

Another issue is whether you were paid all your final wages including any accrued vacation time on your final day of employment? In California, an employer cannot wait even one day to pay an employee that it terminates. If you weren't paid on time then you have a wage and hour claim and should speak with an employment lawyer.

Steven Paul Cohn

Steven Paul Cohn


From the facts given, it appears that you were not paid your full, net wages due to impermissably higher tax withholding ;thus, rendering the employer in violation and subjecting it to waiting time penalties of daily wages, times the number of late days, not to exceed 30. Also, the employer must typically have your final paycheck ready on the final day of employment where the termination was planned. Where unanticipated, a California employer has up to 72 hours to issue the final pay. The waiting time penalties claim may be brought by you at the California Labor Commission. Good luck to you.


An employer is supposed to withhold taxes from your paycheck in accordance with the wishes you state in your W-4. However, a failure by the employer to do so once is a very minor infraction that would not be worth making a big deal about. You will not pay more or less taxes as a result of the issue. The government will simply be able to hold a little of your money longer than it otherwise would have.

Good luck to you.

This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.


For nearly all types of legal actions, one must have suffered some kind of harm. It sounds like the employer was in a rush to get you your final check and made a mistake. But even if the error was intentional, you haven't actually been harmed because the amount of taxes will be adjusted when you file your income tax. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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