Can My Employer Withhold Wages, and Force Me to Drive an Illegal Company Truck?

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“I work for a small company in Missouri and I am paid hourly. I work 40 regular hours and about 10-15 over time hours a week. The owner of the company is supposed to pay me every other Wednesday via verbal agreement. I have worked here for 6 months and for the past two months, he has not paid me on time. The first time, he did not pay me until the following week. Then, he didn’t pay me for 2 1/2 weeks after that. I have talked to him about it and he said he’s doing the best he can. I was supposed to be paid today, Wednesday, and my boss told me this morning he would pay me later tonight (Thursday), but it’s only going to be half of what he owes me. I have threatened to quit and he told me good luck getting unemployment if I quit. I’ve been late on my rent and other bills multiple times. My boss is also making me drive a work truck that has no tags/license plates. He said I have to drive it or I have no job. I’ve gotten pulled over and ticketed 3 times. He keeps telling me he’ll pay the tickets, but he hasn’t and they’re in my name. I want to get out of this job and file unemployment, but I’m scared if I quit, I won’t be eligible.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

First of all, you should not drive an unregistered vehicle. It’s illegal, and it’s affecting your driving record. You may be able to go to traffic court and explain your situation to the judge, but there’s no guarantees and it’s best to avoid the situation all together. Secondly, it sounds like your employer is a bully. If your employer is not paying you, you should stop giving him your time and look for employment elsewhere. Legally, your employer cannot withhold wages; however, getting him to pay the wages is another thing entirely.

Since it doesn’t seem like you’re getting anywhere reasoning with your boss, you should consider meeting with an attorney and/or contacting the Missouri Department of Labor about this matter. You can also file a lawsuit against your employer in small claims court for back wages owed, but it may be difficult to collect on any possible judgement. Your case may also be more difficult given that you don’t have a written employment contract, which is another reason you may want to speak with an attorney.

Finally, if you are late on rent and utilities you should explain your situation to your landlord and utility providers as soon as possible. They may be more willing to work with you if they know that you’re going to work, but your employer simply isn’t paying you. This could give you some more time to look for another job to replace your income.

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Author: House Attorney

A house attorney has answered this question.