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September 2010 Archives

Before You File A Texas Payday Law Claim

The Texas Payday Law-Chapter 61 of the Texas Labor Code-was designed to provide individuals with a quick efficient way to collect wages due them without having to hire a lawyer or get involved in protracted litigation. However, what was designed as an additional remedy for employees stiffed by their employers has become an additional defense for employers looking to stiff their employees. In 2008, the Texas Supreme Court decided a case called Igal v. Brightstar Information Technology Group, Inc., 250 S.W.3d 78 (Tex. 2008).  In that case, the employee (Mr. Igal) filed a Payday Law claim with the Texas Workforce Commission ("TWC"), who decided the claim had not been timely filed. Claims filed under the Texas Payday Law must be filed with the TWC within 180 days from the date the wages become due. Mr. Igal then filed a lawsuit against his former employer for breach of contract.  The deadline in Texas for filing a breach of contract claim  for wages is 4 years from the date the wages became due. The Supreme Court held that because Mr. Igal had chosen to file the wage claim with the Texas Workforce Commission, after the TWC ruled against him, he could no longer pursue a claim in court for breach of contract. What this means is if you have a wage claim for a significant amount of money, you should seek legal advice before filing a Payday Law claim with the TWC. Some claims are better suited for a judge or jury than an administrative determination by the TWC. Conversely, some claims have a better chance to prevail at the TWC than in court. It's unfortunate a law intended to simplify the collection of wages has, because the Texas Supreme Court's decision, complicated it. It increases the price of justice, and no one, except lawyers, benefit from that. Bottom line: if you have a significant wage claim, and have time before the statute of limitations deadline, talk to a lawyer before you file it. GSF

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