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What is the statute of limitations for unpaid wages?

Seattle, WA |

My past employer owes me a lot of back pay. Is there a statute of limitations for how soon I would have to take them to court if I had to do so? If there is, does that start counting down from my first missed paycheck or my last?

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Attorney answers 1


I believe the statute of limitations for unpaid wages claims is 6 years, since the Washington Legislature amended RCW 4.16.040(2) in 2007 (see link below) to specifically state that the statute of limitations on accounts receivable is 6 years, and that accounts receivable include "any obligation for payment incurred in the ordinary course of the claimant's business or profession, whether arising from one or more transactions and whether or not earned by performance." This most likely covers your situation.

The time period starts running from the first missed paycheck, because that is the point at which you became aware you were being harmed by your employer's refusal to pay you.



2-3 years, depending on the situation as per the Department of Labor

Hamilton H Gardiner

Hamilton H Gardiner


I have not seen any recent case law addressing the RCW revision you mention, but prior cases held that there was a 3-year statute of limitations as the failure to pay an employee the required wage under the Minimum Wage Act violates the rights of the employee and is considered an injury to the person. RCW 4.16.080(2)

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