Company pre-paid monthly per diem expense & wants repayment for time not used

I have been working out of town on a project for 10 months and am paid my regular wage as well as a 5-day/week per diem rate amount decided by my employer. My per diem was paid monthly before the first of each month. 1 week into the 10th month, my employer called me back to home base (I had already paid my full rent). Upon my return, he asked me to return the 3 weeks of fronted per diem which did not cover the full rent I paid and requested a written "break down" of that check. In doing so, I discovered that per the union contract the company signed, I was owed 7 days/week per diem, not 5. I was willing to let it go and call it even, but my employer insisted on repayment. I quit a couple weeks later and he is withholding my final paycheck because of the per diem issue. I understand he cannot withhold the final paycheck and will have to pay me penalty pay. But is it possible I have to repay the disputed amount?

1 answer  |  asked Nov 10, 2016 10:48 AM [EST]  |  applies to California

Answers (1)

Marilynn Mika Spencer
If your employment was governed by a collective bargaining agreement (contract) between a union and the employer, then you should take this issue up with the union immediately. Most negotiated benefits can only be addressed through the grievance procedure, and only the union can file a grievance.

If the amount of your final paycheck is crystal clear, then you can file a claim for unpaid or late-paid final wages through the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. 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:

If the amount of your final check is dependent on analyzing or interpreting the contract, then your remedy will be the union grievance procedure.

posted by Marilynn Mika Spencer  |  Nov 11, 2016 6:37 PM [EST]

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