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Do I have to sign papers after I quit my job?

Modesto, CA |

I called my boss and told him I was quitting because I do not feel comfortable working at his business. He told me I would have to sign papers that I was quitting. I've had to quit a couple other jobs and never had to sign papers. Is this just their way of doing things? Can they withhold my check untill I sign papers? Do I have a right not to sign the papers and still receive my check?

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Attorney answers 4


You never have to sign anything that you don't want to. It is illegal for an employer to make you sign anything in order to get your wages.

If your employer withholds your wages because you refuse to sign something, you can file a complaint with the Labor Commissioner. They will take your complaint free of charge, and will contact the employer. You can find your local office at

Good luck with your legal matter.

Craig T. Byrnes

Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not offering legal advice, nor forming an attorney-client relationship with you. I am not representing you, nor doing anything to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have suffered a legal wrong, take action before any statute or limitations expires, or your right to do so may be lost forever. Good luck in your legal matter.


It is absolutely illegal for an employer to withhold an employee's earned compensation because the employee resigned or until the employee signs something. The California Labor Code specifically prohibits an employer from any such requirement.

Know that even though you are not required to sign anything, there may be repercussions if you do not; for example, the employer may gave you a bad reference. That said, under no circumstances should you sign anything without reading every word of the document carefully, and running it by an employment attorney. There can be substantial consequences that are not apparent from the document.

California law requires employers to pay an employee's final wages at the time the employer ends the employment, or within 72 hours if the employee resigns without giving 72 hours notice. "Final wages" consist of regular pay, overtime pay, accrued and unused vacation pay, PTO, commissions that can be calculated, some bonuses and perhaps other components. It does not include unused sick leave.

If the employer does not pay as required, there is a penalty against the employer and in favor of the employee: the employee’s pay continues as if the employee were still working, every day until the employer pays in full, up to a maximum of 30 days. The employee is entitled to interest at 10 per cent per annum on the unpaid amount. Also, if the employee must go to court to get his or her pay, then the employee is awarded reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of suit.

The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. Some people refer to the DLSE as the Labor Commissioner. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here: *** 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. ***


Mr. Byrnes and Ms. Spencer are absolutely correct. You can still call your boss and ask him what he wants you to sign.


You never have to sign anything, especially to receive your paycheck. If you gave at least 72 hours' notice of quitting, your former employer was required to have your check ready for you to pick up at the office on your last day of work. If you did not give at least 72 hour, notice, they had 72 hours to have the check ready, including all wages owed plus any earned and unused vacation or PTO. They can't condition giving you your paycheck on anything, including demanding that you sign something. If they violated those rules, contact an employment law attorney. Going to the Labor Commissioner is optional, but an attorney can usually contact your former employer and get the wages owed, plus any waiting time penalties PLUS their fee. 499-481-6909.

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