What to do if a payroll check is refused

I need help. I am a high school teacher and supposed to have all the answers.

A student came to me today and said that her payroll check had been refused at her bank. I told her to take it to the bank that it was drawn on. Tried that, they refused it too. Go talk to your manager, I told her. Tried that too, he blew her off. Take your mother with you, I say. Mom wants me to show responsibility and take care of it myself, says she. I’ll get back to you tomorrow say I.

Dopers, please help. We are in Texas. She has two checks waiting to be cashed. One is 88 days old and invalid after 90 days. The student is 16, and we are dealing with a major cinema chain.

What reasons were given for the refusals?
Does she have picture ID?
Did she try the branch manager at the bank it was drawn on?

Call the State Attorney General’s office. While it’s generally a misdemeanor to write bad checks, bouncing payroll checks is somewhat more illegal – the employer may be guilty of a felony. I once had an employer who bounced no fewer than 6 paychecks on me (it may have been more, but it was a long time ago) and I found out how much it sucks to suffer that kind of employee abuse.

In any event, the company for which the student works is obligated to make good on its own payroll checks. She should cash it at her place of business and deposit the cash in the bank. In the future, she’d be wise to request payment in cash instead of by check.

Refuse as in ‘refuse to cash the check’ or refuse as in bounce the check. If it’s the first, open an account (if she doesn’t have one) and deposit it and wait for it to clear. If it is the second, Cap’n Crude gave an answer. Also, if it is a major cinema chain, copy the CEO on the letter.

Branch banks are notoriously stingy and they don’t trust anyone. They will not cash checks for non-customers nor for people that cannot be readily identified. Sometimes, even for customers, they will not cash checks (especially customers that carry small balances), as they have no recourse if the check bounces.

She should also inquire at work if they’ve set up a check-cashing account at a local bank (sometimes different from the bank drawn upon).

Director of small company in MI:

If I write a company check, my companies bank ** must** cash it (if I have sufficient funds) as long as they are certain that there’s no fraud. In other words, the fact she doesn’t have an account at that bank doesn’t mean that they can decide to not honor the check (think about it - how likely is it that all of a companies creditors bank at the same bank? ).

Does she have proof of her identity? I’ve had employees who didn’t have ID, and I personally went to the bank to help them get it cashed (the teller once said ‘well, we’ll do it for you this time’ and I assured her, that since I was the authorized signator on the account and if I personally was saying ‘this is the person I wish to receive the $$’, they’d do it any and every time I did so)

I don’t think you’d have to go to the Attorney GEneral, the local prosecuting attorney should be able to handle it. My experience (with client’s who’se paychecks were bouncing and refused), they made a call and politely suggested to the employer to fix the problem.

(and depending on the state’s laws, issuing a Non sufficient funds check, especially a payroll check can be a felony regardless of the amount).

State Bureau of Labor, too, if the above doesn’t work, for whatever reason.

This is where I think the problem is also. Also, just because a check says Chase doesn’t mean you can walk into any Chase to cash it. Not only will they not know the presenter, but they won’t know the issuer. Sure, they’ll know there is cash in the account, but that’s it. It’s because of people who have in the past defrauded the banks they don’t cash the checks of anyone they cannot positively identify on both sides.

I had a problem cashing a paycheck from my night job (delivering pizza) just recently. I had picked it up on Friday, and instead of cashing it at the local F&M Bank, I waited until Monday. During my travels as a courier (my day job), I passed an F&M branch and decided to cash it.

The boss’s signature wasn’t on hardcopy file (of course), so they requested a fax copy from the branch where the payroll account. When they got it, they judged that it didn’t look enough like what was on my check to cash it. ARGH!

I was adimant, so they called my boss and asked if he had indeed signed a check to me on the payroll account. He confirmed it, and I finally got my cash after 50 minutes.

Funny thing: the next time I worked my night job, there was a poster posted on the new check acceptance policies. On it was an example of a bad check; they used our franchise’s office address as the check’s address. So I asked my manager (who knew about my travails on Monday), “Does this mean we shouldn’t accept checks from them anymore?” :D:D

Payroll check refused at her bank? I assume that means they wouldn’t cash it for her.

What makes it her bank? Does she have an account there? If so, surely they will accept the check for deposit. If she doesn’t actually have an account, she needs to open one tomorrow, using these checks as the intitial deposit.

The 88 day old check could conceivably be deemed void if it doesn’t reach the issuing bank in time. I’m sure that can be resolved, though it will likely be a pain. Her waiting this long to seek counsel strikes me as odd. We’ll hope that she learns that some things don’t turn out so well when put off too long.

I used to work for a guy who quite regularly bounced checks, payroll and otherwise. I took him to court, and here’s how it went for me, in Massachusetts:

Firstly, there are government agencies you can turn to if your employer refuses to pay you; skip them. Since the employer has already written the check, this means he already agrees to pay her the money. (Those government agencies are generally weak and slow, but they might serve to put a scare into her boss just the same.)

The magic word here is “larceny by check,” provided the check truly has been refused for insufficient funds.

When I pressed criminal charges against my former boss and his business, the court took it very seriously and was of great help. They insisted that he mail me a new, good check for all the money, very quickly, and threatened big trouble if he didn’t.

He quickly repaid me with no problems. I was in my early twenties at the time, but I did bring my father along, who dresses well and has a very strong personality when needed; I’m certain that was a help.

In some jurisdictions, payment by cash is forbidden under labour standards laws - wages must be paid by cheque.

From the OP, I’m not certain - does she have an account? if not, do as Gary T suggests - open an account and deposit these two cheques. The reason banks refuse to cash cheques is that they are afraid that the cheques will bounce. If you deposit them in a new bank account, the bank may impose a waiting period before the money can be withdrawn, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem here (88 days??). Also, having her own bank account may help her build up a credit history.

Banks can be very bizarre indeed. As mentioned previously, if you don’t have an account with this bank, don’t even think of asking them to cash a cheque for you. Doesn’t matter if it’s been issued by your employer, insurance carrier or government.

On the other hand, and this is what really defies logic; You can deposit a cheque via your favorite teller and find out that the funds won’t be available for X number of days till it clears, or you can simply deposit it via their ATM and have the funds available on the spot!

The only explanation I can come up with for this practice is that the bank(s) are doing their darndest to wean us, their customers off interaction with humans, and ulltimately allow them to reduce their numbers.

ATMs don’t take sick days, coffee breaks…well you get the point.

Apologies for the rant, but I really despise banks.

If the check is not honored upon presentation at the issuing bank, one of two things is occuring:

The bank is breaching its duty to its customer (the employer) (if funds are available)

The employer is committing Theft of Services - a felony eligilble for treble (3x) damages in CA (if NSF).

A call to the local prosecutor would be in order.

Banks suck. Banks in Texas suck twice. But—does this teenager have purple hair? Tattoos? Facial piercings? Things like that mitigate against folks, especially teenage folks.

She really needs to open an account, or endorse the checks over to her mother so her mother can deposit them in her account.

Nope, there’s at least a third alternative (and perhaps more), already presented.

  1. The bank is uncertain of the identity of the person attempting to cash the check. They are under no obligation to cash a check for some one w/o assurances that A. the check is good, and B. the person is approved to receive the check.

  2. (just thought of it) The bank is uncertain that the check itself is not a forgery (this happened to my co. once, some one stole checks, forged them and presented them for payment. There were sufficient funds in the account, but they were suspicious about the check itself and correctly refused to cash it.

have you tried The money box?
oh how i wish they had them up in oregon.
does 7-11 still have the check cashing centers in texas?

Thank you for all of the advice. Just a few quick notes.

Yes, she does have a checking account at Chase bank. Yes she does have ID. She is a quite normal looking student, a member of the NHS, etc.

Her mother is going in with her this evening. I told her to demand cash, if notto call the DA’s office on Monday. It seems that the theater has been bought out by another chain, and this has happened to other employees. I believe the reason she was given at the bank was that the account no longer exists.

For the record, I told her never to hold a check for 88 days again.

IANAL, but I believe the new company that bought it out is liable for the paychecks.

I don’t know if there is a time limit on when it needs to be cashed but my wife (not at the time) found a paycheck from 3 years ago when cleaning out the closet for over one thousand dollars. She no longer worked there and they refused to honor it and she went ballistic and did lots of research.

They reissued the check. I don’t see why they would have done that unless they had to.

Usually when an account is going to be closed, sufficient funds are left in the account for all outstanding checks to clear. The employer doesn’t sound like an upstanding business if they did not do so AND then refused to issue the employee another check.