Whether an Arizona employee leaves the employ of his employer voluntarily or not, Arizona law requires that a discharged employee be paid all wages due to him or her within a very clearly defined period of time. Arizona employers that fail to comply with the governing statutes face serious penalties, including the possibility of having to pay a discharged employee treble damages and attorneys’ fees.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 23-353(A) applies to situations where an employee is terminated or fired by his or her employer. In such cases, the statute requires that wages be paid within three regular working days or by the end of the next regular pay period, whichever is sooner. For example, if an employee is terminated on a Monday and the next regular payday is the following Monday, the employer cannot pay the employee in the regular course, but must pay all wages owed by Thursday at the latest.
Section 23-353(B) is a little more forgiving to employers who have an employee quit. In those cases that employer has until the next regular payday to pay the employee. This section also provides that if the employee requests, the employer must send the payment by mail.
Although Section 23-353(D) provides that violation of this statute is a petty offense, the more important penalty to a discharged employee is that found in Arizona Revised Statute Section 23-355, which allows an employee who is not paid as required in Section 23-353 to sue the former employer for “treble the amount of the unpaid wages.” Obviously, violation of the statute can become quite expensive for an employer, and lucrative for an employee.
In addition, because the employment relationship is contractual in nature an employee who does bring such a suit may also recover attorneys’ fees incurred in pursuing such an action pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 12-341.01.
If you have not been paid wages owed to you in a timely manner, or if you are an employer who has been accused of failing to comply with one or more of these statutes, you should consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible. The failure to make an appropriate claim or defense in a timely manner can be fatal to your case.
Kevin R. Harper is an Arizona employment and business litigation attorney, representing individuals and small businesses throughout the state of Arizona from his Central Phoenix office located at 1 N. Central Ave., Suite 1130, in downtown Phoenix. His firm also has an office in Chandler, Arizona and represents individuals and businesses all over the state of Arizona.