Employers must pay terminated employee immediately or possibly pay damages


Regardless of the reason an employer terminates an employee in Missouri, they are required to pay all salary then earned at the time of the termination.

We recently had a young man come to us who had been terminated by his employer. After consulting with the Labor Board, he asked to be paid. He called and demanded his check. And his corporate employer said, “No. You have to wait for a regular payday.”

But this young man decided that he would follow the advice from the Labor Board and filed suit in small claims. Good for him. But, unfortunately, the advice he was given was flawed. To take advantage of Missouri’s Unpaid Wage and Penalty Statute, the employee has to provide a written demand for payment. Then the employer has seven days to provide payment.

We were not able to help this young man, but a statement made by the corporation’s regional manager was extremely concerning. She said, “We use a third party payment processor so that law doesn’t apply to us.”

The purpose of writing this blog post is to communicate to employees that if an employer doesn’t pay you at the time of termination, you must make a written demand for payment. The employers 7 day clock doesn’t start ticking until you do.

But if you make the demand and the employer still doesn’t pay you or deducts money from your pay for some reason (taxes can be deducted), then the employer is subject to punitive damages equal to your daily rate every day until you are paid up to 60 days. And it doesn’t matter if you are working somewhere else or not.

In summary, if you are fired or terminated for any reason:

  1. Demand your money in writing – put the time and date on your demand.
  2. Take a picture of the demand with your cell phone.
  3. Wait seven days.
  4. File suit in small claims or talk to an attorney.
  5. If you are in North East Missouri – give us a call.

RSMO §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.”