Louisiana's "Last Paycheck" law is located at La. R.S. Section 23:631 et. seq. and provides that an employee that is terminated or quits is due all monies owed within 15 days or the next pay period.
Timeframe for Payment
Employees that quit or are terminated (fired) must be paid within 15 days of their separation from employment or by the next regularly scheduled pay day, whichever is first. Since state law generally requires employees to be paid every 15 days, an employee must receive their pay within 15 days at the latest. If 15 days has passed since the employee's separation of employment, and payment of all monies owed to the employee has not been made, the employer has likely violated Louisiana's "Last Paycheck" law.
Where must Payment be Made
Payment should be made in the traditional location for which the employee's normal pay is made. If, while the employee was employed, payment was made through direct deposit, then the employee's final paycheck should be paid through direct deposit. If the payment is traditionally mailed, the payment should be provided through the mail and is considered paid upon mailing.
Is Vacation Pay Included
Currently, as of this writing (2010), vacation pay is likely money owed unless an employer has a specific employment policy that is conveyed to employees informing them that vacation pay is a non-vested benefit. If the employer does not have such a policy, and the employee has unused vacation, it may well be classified as money owed to the employee upon separation of employment. Proposals of change to this portion of the law were being considered in the 2010 Louisiana Legislative Session, and as such may change.
Penalties for Failing to Pay under Louisiana's Last Paycheck Law
Failing to pay an employee all monies owed will subject an employer to up to 90 days of pay. An employer is liable to the employee either for ninety days of wages at the employee's daily rate of pay, or else for full wages from the time the employee's demand for payment is made until the employer shall pay or tender the amount of unpaid wages due to such employee, whichever is the lesser amount of penalty wages should payment not be made after the employee makes demand for payment.
An employer is also required to pay any attorney's fees (including contingency fees) should the employee prevail at a trial on a claim for unpaid wages.
What Should an Employee Do to Comply with Louisiana's Last Paycheck Law
An employee that has not been paid all monies owed within 15 days (or the next regularly scheduled pay day), should make demand for their final paycheck or the monies they deem to be owed. This demand, for evidentiary purposes should be made in writing and properly addressed to the Company's Human Resources person, their manager/supervisor, Personnel Director, or the person they regularly understand to be in control of paying employees. The letter should be signed by the employee and, if feasible, sent via Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested. The employee should retain the "green card" when it is returned to them by the postal service. This is concrete evidence that demand was made.
An employee should seek legal representation, as these claims can be handled quickly in the courts and through certain legal proceedings. Further, if the claim is a legitimate claim, the employee's attorney is paid for by the employer, as mandated by law.
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