It happens. Some unscrupulous employers for some reason think that “out of sight is out of mind,” and when they let you go, they make you fight for your final wages–some going so far as to say–so sue me. Obviously this is not legal, but what do you do?
Here are a couple of laws that will give you back up for that strongly worded letter that you’re putting together to demand your final wages:
820 ILCS 115/1 et seq., the Illinois Wage Payment and Collections Act dictates that an employer must pay an employees final compensation “in full, at the time of separation, if possible, but in no case later than the next regularly scheduled payday for such employee. Where such employee requests in writing that his (or her!) final compensation be paid by check and mailed to him (or her!), the employer shall comply with this request.” 820 ILCS115/5.
Good stuff, huh? Also, just so we are all clear, “final compensation” includes “wages, salaries, earned commissions, earned bonuses, and the monetary equivalent of earned vacation and earned holidays, and any other compensation owed the employee by the employer pursuant to an employment contract or agreement between the 2 parties,” so if you were entitled to vacation days that were unused, those also can be included as final wages– not just hourly wages.
So what do you do? Well, “self help” for starters– you can write a letter to your former employer pointing out the provisions of the law set forth above and demanding your final compensation. Send it regular and certified mail and keep a copy for yourself. Also, you may want to point out to your former employer that if they fail to pay in accordance with the law and after demand therefore, you are entitled to sue them. You are entitled to damages in the amount of 2% of unpaid wages from the time they were due, AND you are entitled to recover your attorneys fees and costs in bringing the suit. If that doesn’t get any response, call us. We’ll take it from there.