Employers have a responsibility to pay their employees the amount they are owed and on time. If you are having issues with your employer related to your paycheck, you should familiarize yourself with wage and hour laws in Washington to learn about what rights you have.

When Must Paychecks Be Sent Out in Washington State?

In Washington, you should be paid at least once a month. Paydays must be regular and established in advance. The law is the same regardless of whether you are an hourly or salaried employee.

Failure to render paychecks at the proper time can result in legal issues or liability for the employer. This is especially true if the delays or failures affect large numbers of employees at the same time. In such cases, a lawsuit may be necessary.

What Happens to My Paycheck If I am Fired in Washington State?

In the event  that you are fired or terminated, you are entitled to receive your final wages by the next payday. It does not matter if you quit or were fired. While there is no law in Washington requiring paid sick or vacation leave, your employer may need to pay for unused paid days off if they offer you paid vacation or sick days.

Whether your employer is obligated to pay that amount depends completely on their company policy or your employment contract. If you think you should be paid for unused days when you leave your job, you should look at the company policy carefully.

Can My Paycheck Be Garnished in Washington State?

Your employer can garnish your wages to compensate for overpayment where they accidentally recorded the wrong wage or number of hours worked, but they must do so within 90 days of the overpayment and provide you with written notice. Additionally, if you are a government employee, then the deduction for overpayment cannot exceed five percent of your disposable income if the pay period is not your final pay period.

If you damaged property at work, your employer cannot deduct that amount from your paycheck on a regular basis. However, your employer can deduct that money from your final paycheck as long as you agree to the deduction, either verbally or in writing, and your employer can show that you caused the damage through dishonesty or willfulness.

A creditor can have your employer garnish your wages on their behalf without a court judgment to pay off defaulted student loans, unpaid taxes, or child support. Also, your wages can be garnished for other personal debts before a court order authorizing garnishment is issued if you are not a Washington resident or about to move out of the state, you are hiding and difficult to serve, or you have or are about to take your property out of the state. Outside of these exceptions, your creditors have to get a court judgment first to get your wages garnished.

Can I Recover a Withheld Paycheck in Washington State?

Your employer does not have the right to withhold your paycheck, even when you have not yet turned in your key to the office or your uniform. If you are having a dispute with your employer about your wages, you can reach out to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries and file a complaint. Otherwise, you can sue your employer in court to recover your missing wages.

These types of lawsuits are known as “wage and hour” lawsuits. This is where the court analyzes the evidence to determine what amounts are owed to the employee. This can include back wages, and in some cases, other forms of damages awards. Some common issues addressed in wage and hour lawsuits include:

  • Disputes over payment of minimum wage amounts;
  • Disputes over tips and other forms of payments;
  • Legal issues or violations regarding overtime pay and overtime eligibility;
  • Issues having to do with an employee’s part-time or full-time status;
  • Disputes over the number of hours an employee has worked;
  • Conflicts regarding timing of a payment (late or missed payments); and/or
  • Various other issues.

Does Washington State Require Me to Buy My Own Uniform?

You and your employer can agree, either in writing or orally, that the cost of uniforms can be deducted from your last paycheck, but only if you do not return the uniform when you leave the job. The deduction cannot reduce your final paycheck below minimum wage. Other costs such as vehicle-related costs and other expenses may be subject to individual agreement between the employee and their employer.

Where Can I Find the Right Employment Lawyer in Washington State?

You can find the right Washington employment lawyer here. Having someone who knows the law fighting on your side can be very important, especially if you are in a dispute with a large company. An attorney near you will be able to provide representation, guidance, and legal advice throughout the legal process.