I was let go from my place of work in California on the 6th of January. My now former employer explicitly told me that she'll have my paycheck on the following Thursday (15th). That day came around and I went to pick up my check. She had me go into the office of the lead foreman who was going to hand me my check, which I thought was weird. He had my check and W-2 in hand, but stated that he needed me to sign a "Termination Document" before releasing my final paycheck and W-2.

The document was very sparse, maybe only a couple lines. By signing it, it states that I no longer work for the company and I can never pursue legal action against them. I was not comfortable signing it, especially since it made no reference to the W-2 or Paycheck. He assured me it was completely normal, and all of his former employees sign it. Still, very uncomfortable with it, because I never signed a document like this when I was let go.

To cut it short, the conversation went nowhere, and told him I would be back when I looked up a couple things I was unsure about. I then headed to the local Labor Commission office to ask around, then filed a former complaint.

It's the 21st, and still no check or W2 in hand. What should I do at this point, or what can I do?

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    Agreeing with @JoeStrazzere - you should have asked for the paycheck explicitly. They have until Jan 31st the following year to mail the W-2. – Wesley Long Jan 21 '15 at 17:16
  • So... did you sign or not? – user52889 Jan 21 '15 at 18:38
  • I questioned him on the legitimacy of the document and told him in previous jobs that they handed me the paycheck and that was it. If there was a document to sign, it just stated that I have acknowledge I have received my final paycheck. He argued, mentioning that he was not withholding my paycheck and W-2, just needed me to sign the document for record purposes. I then asked him to hand over my paycheck if that was the case then. Which he declined, saying that he needed the document signed first before he can hand over the check and w-2, stating it was company policy. – user32180 Jan 21 '15 at 19:29
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    @user32180 sounds like you did exactly the correct thing when handed their 'agreement'. – GrandmasterB Jan 21 '15 at 20:15
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    You have done everything perfectly, from a legal standpoint. You should probably make a log (on a notepad) of your interactions and their result while it's still fresh in your mind. – Wesley Long Jan 22 '15 at 1:13

From: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_paydays.htm

An employee without a written employment contract for a definite period of time who quits without giving 72 hours prior notice must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, within 72 hours of quitting. An employee who quits without giving 72-hours prior notice may request that his or her final wage payment be mailed to a designated address. The date of mailing will be considered the date of payment for purposes of the requirement to provide payment within 72 hours of the notice of quitting. Labor Code Section 202

There is no wiggle room here. Contact the labor commissions office. http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/DistrictOffices.htm

Now, because you were terminated they have to provide those wages immediately at termination and are now liable for damages because they have not complied with California law. Basically, for every day that the final wages are not completely paid (starting on Jan 7th), they owe you an additional day's worth of wages. Which means about 15 days at this point... (https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_WaitingTimePenalty.htm)

You can file a wage claim here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileWageClaim.htm

note: I just reread the question. Considering you've already filed a complaint at this point you need to let them investigate and work through the process.

update Based on the last comments: Honestly it sounds like they are scared about something. There is no way that I'd sign that agreement. You will get your check regardless so there is no reason to sign away any rights. Never mind that without consideration a contract like that in the US is likely void anyway - and receiving your paycheck is not consideration.

At this point I'd take one of their calls and let them know that you have filed a wage claim against them. Then state that if they want to resolve things now that they must deliver your paycheck plus the additional penalty amount for the Waiting Time Penalty based on Code Section 202 of the California Labor law - immediately.

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    Chris, please leave the answer up. It's good info for the site, if not for the poster. – Wesley Long Jan 21 '15 at 17:15

Your instincts are spot-on. You have no obligation to sign their document. I wrote this in reply to another poster in a very similar situation. Just add "ex-foreman" to "ex-boss":

Do not communicate, in any fashion (phone, text, email, in person... NONE) any further with your ex-boss. All communication regarding this matter should be directed to your former company's HR and Legal departments. Legal will make sure you get your paycheck promptly to dissuade you from taking further legal action against the company.

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    I would if there was an HR department, there is not. It's a very small company, less than 20 employees. You can say my Boss is also my HR. – user32180 Jan 22 '15 at 15:32

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