My employer has withheld payment and bounced paychecks. Can I resign immediately?

My employer has bounced 3 paychecks in 12 months and has delayed payment several times as well. The company is in obvious financial distress and I wish to leave. Can I resign immediately without giving 120 days notice as stated in my contract?

2 answers  |  asked Jan 12, 2019 08:02 AM [EST]  |  applies to Pennsylvania

Answers (2)

Doris Dabrowski
I agree with Mr. Leah's legal analysis. On a practical level, I suggest joining with co-workers to ask the company about its financial resources and ability to make payroll.

Is the company late in paying other employees?
Consult a lawyer for advice about your particular contract obligations.

posted by Doris Dabrowski  |  Jan 15, 2019 12:10 PM [EST]
Scott Leah
Without being able to look at your contract, it is difficult to give precise advise.

However, just from reading your question it appears that you may be able to assert that your employer breached the contract first, but failing to timely pay you all paychecks when due. The employer may have also violated the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law.

If you don't want to work for an employer who is bouncing your paychecks, paying you late, etc., I think that is reasonable. The question is what your employer does if you quit without giving 120 days notice?

He cannot withhold pay for the period you did work, as that would violate the Wage Payment law. Is there anything in the contract that is contingent on the notice requirement? I would have to see the contract.

Otherwise, I suppose the employer might consider that you have not left employment on good terms and may tell future potential employers that if you list this employer as a reference.

The company could, in the extreme, sue you for breach of contract. But, (a) would it have any actual damages, and (b) it would have a problem with the fact that it may have breached first.

Another issue will be unemployment compensation. You are generally not eligible if you quit, unless you did so for a compelling and necessitous reason. The company could fight your UC if you applied for it. You would have to convince the state that the payroll issues gave you a justifiable reason to quit your job.

posted by Scott Leah  |  Jan 14, 2019 06:30 AM [EST]

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