Employment law in Texas is pretty straightforward, especially where it applies to the responsibility an employer has to their employees regarding wages and the timing of payment.
The requirements are clear, as are the penalties for noncompliance.
Because the law tends to favor employees in clearcut unpaid wage claims, any employee whose employer is violating the law regarding payment timing should seek legal help.
It benefits both the employee and employer to accurately track work hours, especially when it comes to ensuring the labor rules are being followed. Here are the basics of Texas’ payment law for exempt and non-exempt employees and the penalties your employer could face for breaking the law.
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What The Law Says About Wages Owed
Texas law states that employees exempt from overtime provisions must be paid at least once a month. All other employees must be paid at least twice a month.
Rules About Pay Dates and Pay Periods
An employer is required to set pay dates. They cannot pay randomly. If an employer does not formally set a pay date or dates, the defaults are the first and 15th day of each month.
An employer must, by law, post the payday pay dates in a “conspicuous” space that an employee will notice during the pursuit of their workday (the notice cannot be hidden.) For wages paid twice a month, the employer must pay to the greatest extent possible for an equal number of days per pay period.
If an employee is terminated, the employer must submit payment to the employee no later than six days after the termination date. If an employee does not receive pay on the employer-specified date, the employer must pay the employee on another business day at the employee’s request.
Illegal Employer Behavior
Employees and employers are encouraged by the State of Texas to work out wage payment differences. The employer cannot refuse to pay the employee, or hold up payment for work completed in return for the employee completing more work. The law regarding timely payment applies to both hourly and salaried employees.
Additionally, in the State of Texas, an employer cannot:
- Fail to pay an employee for wages that are due
- Fails to pay the employee after they request payment
- Continues to employ a worker while intending to withhold wages
- Hire a worker with the intention to withhold wages
Each pay period the employer refuses to remit payment for work performed counts as an individual violation of the law. Each violation is a felony charge of the third degree.
Penalties for Noncompliance With Payment Laws
An employer found in noncompliance with Texas pay and timing of payment laws, risks the penalties that range from mild to severe.
Being Ordered To Pay Double the Amount Owed for Overtime
An employer found noncompliant with overtime payment requirements can be ordered to pay back the amount owed, plus double damages.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) can impose fines on any employer withholding payment from employees. Additionally, if overtime pay is involved, the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services can impose fines on an employer refusing to pay wages due.
Fine amounts depend on the employer’s infraction of the law and what the TWC determines the intent of the employer was. If overtime is involved, employers can have fines ranging from $100 to $500 per overtime hour that is not paid.
If the employee retains an attorney for court or with a complaint with the TWC or the Department of Family and Protective Services, both agencies can order the employer to pay the employee’s legal fees.
The employer can also be required to pay all court costs associated with the complaint.
Further Failure To Comply
If an employer continues noncompliance with nonpayment or a TWC order, the TWC can and will take further legal action against the employer.
The TWC may require the employer to deposit a bond covering the amount of earnings unpaid during the period or periods in question if they are found guilty of violating the payment requirement under Texas law.
How To Pursue Unpaid Wages
If your employer owes you wages, you have a few options:
- Try To Work It Out With Them
Depending on your relationship with your employer, you might be able to work something out with them. Any agreement must comply with Texas employment and wage law. Your employer cannot use wages as a contingency for future employment.
- File a Complaint With the TWC
You can file a complaint with the TWC. Once you file a complaint and a case is opened, the TWC will investigate your situation. It will then determine if your employer is guilty of a legal violation, and, if so, recommend a remedy.
- File a Lawsuit
You also have the option of suing your employer. If you file with the TWC or sue your employer, you should discuss your case with an attorney that specializes in employment and wage law.
You Deserve The Wages You Are Owed
An attorney that works with employment and wage law can quickly assess your case and recommend the proper course of action. If you are owed wages or think you have a wage-based claim, set up a consultation with an attorney as soon as possible.