last updated 1-01-2003


Have you quit or been terminated but were not paid the wages that were due to you? Maybe you had accumulated vacation benefits that weren't paid to you. If so, you may have a legal claim against your former employer for those wages and benefits.

La Revised Statute 23:631 et seq, provides that once an employee is terminated or quits, that employee must first make a formal demand on his employer for the payment of unpaid wages. The employer is required to make that payment by the next regular pay date or within 15 days.

If the employer does not make timely payment, then there may be a claim for up to one full day of pay for each day that the employer delays making the payment up to a total of 90 days. However, this so-called "penalty wage" can only be assessed if the employer did not have a good faith reason for not making payment timely. Some cases have held that the mere fact of not making payment is a lack of good faith. Other cases have held that there must be a definite indication of bad faith.

There are some cases where the amount of wages claimed were only a few hundred dollars but the total judgment, including the above penalty wages, was in excess of $10,000.

The term "wages" has been held to include hourly payments, salary, commissions, hazardous pay, overtime pay and accumulated vacation. Thus, the items covered are just about any type of compensation that an employee works for. In most cases, vacation pay is due if the employee could have taken the vacation time if he were still an employee. However, sick leave is normally not an item of compensation but is only a benefit provided by the employer.

Vacation pay will be consideed an amount then due only if, in accordance with the stated vacation policy of the person employing such laborer or other employee, both of the following apply:

  • 1--The employee is deemed eligible for and has accrued the right to take vacation time with pay.

  • 2--The employee has not taken or been compensated for the vacation time as of the date of the discharge or resignation.

    If there is a dispute in the amount of compensation that is due, the employer is required to pay the undisputed portion of the amount due.

    In any case, if you sue and win, the courts will award you wages, all court costs, reasonable attorney's fees and, if the employer is in bad faith, then full wages of the employee until payment is made or 90 days of full pay, whichever is lesser.

    An agreement that any resulting litigation will be decided under the laws of another state (forum selection) or in the courts of another state (venue selection) is specifically void and invalid in Louisiana unless the selection is made knowingly and after the incident that was the cause of the litigation.

    LRS 23:634 provides that it is unlawful for an employer to require the forfeiture of any earned wages upon discharge or resignation.

    LRS 23:635 also provides that the employer is not to assess any fines against an employee for any reason. However, this does not apply if the employee "wilfully or negligently" damage goods, works or property of the employer. In such case, the fine is not to exceed the actual damage done.

    In addition to any other provisions, venue (or the courthouse where the suit may be brought) can be in the parish where the work was done.
    	========================  WARNING  =======================
    	                      AND DISCLAIMER
    	This information is provided for the reader's benefit in
    	becoming familiar with the legal matters discussed.  Your
    	particular facts may be different from the points above.
    	You should not rely on the above data without consulting a 
    	attorney to discuss the specific facts of your case
    	and the law of your state.

    If you live in Louisiana want to talk about your situation, please call me at:

      Marvin E. Owen
      3036 Brakley Drive
      Baton Rouge, La 70816
      ph 225-292-0099

       Back to Marvin's homepage
    copyright © 1996-2003 marvin e owen