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Tacoma, WA - Can an employer hold a final paycheck until you sign an agreement saying you will not pursue anymore money?

Tacoma, WA |

I have a friend who is owed money by his now ex-employer. His supervisor had scheduled him so many hours a week to work and once he worked them, the company did not pay him for what he worked. Their reasoning was that the supervisor was not authorized to give him so many hours. They then only paid him for the amount of hours that were allotted for his position. Since then he has been trying to get paid what he is owed. The other day he was told that if he were to sign a waiver stating that he would not try to pursue any further collection of money, they then would issue him a final check. When he saw that the amount of the check was for half of what they owed him, he did not sign. Therefore, he did not get a check. Is this legal? (An L&I claim has been filed; No response yet)

Attorney Answers 6


  1. Best answer

    No, this is not legal. My office is in Tacoma and I would be available next week. The failure to pay your friend's pay check by the next regularly scheduled pay day entitles your friend to double damages and attorneys fees. If your friend is smart, they will ask the employee to give him a copy of the waiver "so they can consider it." That will provide some proof of his claim they were holding his check hostage.

    This response does not create a lawyer client relationship. Each case is determined on its specific facts and this reply is intended for a general audience and facts particular to your case may affect the answer. Consult with an attorney in person for specific answers to your questions.


  2. Consult a labor/employment lawyer in your area as there are numerous federal and state laws that apply to the wrongful withholding of wages, especially if they are trying to obtain a release from you as it relates to the compensation in dispute. The state department of labor can also be contacted to understand your rights and remedies in pursuing what you believe you are owed.

    My answer is not intended to be giving legal advice and this topic can be a complex area where the advice of a licensed attorney in your State should be obtained.


  3. No, this isn't legal.

    Without knowing all of the details, reviewing documents, and interviewing witnesses, no person should assume that this Answer constitutes specific legal advice for any specific legal situation. No attorney-client relationship is created by posting general legal responses on this site.


  4. No, it is not legal to hold his paycheck hostage for an agreement not to pursue legal action to vindicate his rights (I suspect the agreement would never be upheld, anyway, as it has an illegal purpose and is one-sided). Contact an employment lawyer.

    This does not constitute legal advice. You should consult an attorney who can assess the facts of your case and discuss your legal rights and obligations.


  5. No, they can't withhold your friend's if paycheck. Your friend should seek the advice of an attorney.

    Legal disclaimer: The answer provided: A) is for informational purposes only, B) is not intended to constitute legal advice, C) should not be relied upon in lieu of consultation with an attorney, and, D) does not establish an attorney client relationship. The answer may be different if all of the facts were known.


  6. Contact L&I. They should pursue it at no cost to you. If they do not, contact a lawyer soon.

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