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Pay & Benefits
Unpaid Final Wages in Missouri
In Missouri, the employer is required to pay the entire amount of your final wages at the moment he fires you or lays you off. RSMo 290.110. If he does not do that, you can make a written request for the balance of your final wages. Upon you making a written request, the employer has seven (7) days to pay you the balance or else a penalty kicks in. The penalty is that your wages continue as if you had never been fired, to a maximum of 60 days. You will have to go to court to collect the penalty. You cannot get attorney fees or other damages. I quote the law below.
It’s best to send your request for payment by certified return receipt mail, just to be safe, so you can more easily prove you sent the request and that the employer received it.
There are some problems with how courts have interpreted the Unpaid Final Wages statute, of course. For example, not everything is “wages.” Tips are not wages, bonuses are not wages, etc. To be squarely covered by 290.110, the money the employer owes you should be your actual hourly wage or your ordinary salary.
Another issue: If you arguably owe the employer money or have kept the employer’s property, such as unreturned uniforms or computers, etc, then the employer can withhold your final wages up to the reasonable value of the property you have retained or the money you allegedly owe.
Damages under RSMo 290.110
If the employer does not pay you within 7 days of receiving your written request for your final wages, your wages continue until you are paid to a maximum of 60 days. Let’s assume the “60″ days means 60 working days rather than 60 calendar days. If you make $500 per week then you are making about $100 per working day gross. So a 60 working day penalty would be $6,000. That’s beyond the scope of small claims court. You’ll need a lawyer to collect the penalty. If you sue and win, all you get is the penalty, plus your out of court expenses of litigation, but not your attorney fees.
This has been an introduction to the Unpaid Final Wage Law, and is not intended to be a full description of everything of legal relevance. Read the statute and you will see that there are several caveats and conditions, and all of them could be important legal issues in your case.
Here is the text of RSMo 290.110, from the Missouri Government website:
Payment due discharged employee–exceptions–penalty for delay.
290.110. Whenever any person, firm or corporation doing business in this state shall discharge, with or without cause, or refuse to further employ any servant or employee thereof, the unpaid wages of the servant or employee then earned at the contract rate, without abatement or deduction, shall be and become due and payable on the day of the discharge or refusal to longer employ and the servant or employee may request in writing of his foreman or the keeper of his time to have the money due him, or a valid check therefor, sent to any station or office where a regular agent is kept; and if the money or a valid check therefor, does not reach the station or office within seven days from the date it is so requested, then as a penalty for such nonpayment the wages of the servant or employee shall continue from the date of the discharge or refusal to further employ, at the same rate until paid; provided, such wages shall not continue more than sixty days. This section shall not apply in the case of an employee whose remuneration for work is based primarily on commissions and whose duties include collection of accounts, care of a stock or merchandise and similar activities and where an audit is necessary or customary in order to determine the net amount due.
(RSMo 1939 Â§ 5082, A.L. 1943 p. 410 Â§ 76, A.L. 1963 p. 414, A.L. 1972 H.B. 1203)
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