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downsized, not happy

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Yesterday, the company I have been working for decided to shut down the satellite office I managed due to economic circumstances. I've seen it coming for some time, so it came as no surprise.

The company official came into my store and informed me that the place was being closed and handed me my severance check, and some insurance forms, saying the check included an additional two weeks pay. He made some generic apologies about the situation and then stated that it was up to me if I wanted to stay and help pack up things. I said that if I had a choice, I'd rather not. He responded that if I stayed, I'd be a better man than he. I made a remark about not wanting to lose that contest, and I left.

Today, I went to the bank to cash the check, but.... the company president had put a stop payment on the check, the reason being that my behavior had been "rather harsh" because I didn't stay to help pack up the place. I was then informed that another check was being issued minus the two week severance amount.

I'm not at all happy. I was presented compensation for my services up to that point, then given a choice as to whether or not help pack up. Even the guy from the company essentially seconded my decision to leave at that time. There were no conditions attached to the check when it was offered.

So, I'm wondering if I have a legal leg to stand on regarding the stop payment of the check. While we're only talking about $1000, my contention is I have been denied compensation that was duly presented, based upon my not performing undefined and unrequired actions after the fact.

I know that Florida is an at will employment state, and that there is no statute requiring severance pay. However, it seems that I was offered payment for services rendered, which I accepted, after which the accepted compensation was denied.

That leaves my question. Am I in any legal position to file a case under labor law or in small claims court to recover the additional monies that were mine one moment, then nonexistant the next?


Senior Member
So, I'm wondering if I have a legal leg to stand on regarding the stop payment of the check. Sorry, no. They didn't have to give you any severance at all and if they want to change their minds at the 11th hour, they can. They only have to pay you for the time you actually worked.

I do think their decision stinks however.
Thanks for your reply, Beth3, however...

My research of Florida statues, so far, has led me to believe the following:

It is illegal in Florida to put stop payment on payroll checks. The check I am holding states it is for wages.

In Florida, a stop payment check qualifies as a worthless check, subject to possible criminal as well as civil proceedings. If criminal, damages up to 3 times the amount of the check may be assessed. If civil, damages are limited to $2500.

I have also been told by someone with HR experience that, because the company is headquartered in California and I am in Florida, there are certain federal issues that may apply.

So, thanks you for your input. I'll keep researching, and hopefully someone more versed in Florida law will add their opinion to the mix.
Last edited:


Senior Member
buggywhip maker said:
It is illegal in Florida to put stop payment on payroll checks.

The check I am holding states it is for wages.
What is the exact law?

If you have that info, WRITE to the company and inform them of your demand.

If need be retain a lawyer.


Senior Member
There is no law that says an employer must give severance pay. However, if you have a contract that says you're entitled to severance pay, then an employer must pay you if you complied with the terms of your contract. Some states consider employee handbooks & policy manuals to be implied contracts. If one of those documents promises severance pay, the employer might be bound by it unless you signed an acknowledgement that such documents do not constitute contracts. Also, if your employer has a history of paying severance pay, then some states might consider that an implied contract.
As I stated earlier, I know there is no law requiring severance pay. Additionally, I said that research had led me to believe certain things.... I didn't say I knew them to be true.

At this point, my question regards suing the company for the amount of the check that I accepted for services rendered, as in services completed prior to the moment the check was handed me. I was subsequently punished for nonperformance of optional work, work that was not discussed or agreed upon before the check changed hands. My contention is that I was defrauded because the company changed the basis of compensation after the fact. Had I been told that I was expected to continue working until the store was packed up, I would have done so. However, that is not the case.

Please consider the following:

"The 2005 Florida Statutes

Title XLVI
Chapter 832
View Entire Chapter

832.041* Stopping payment with intent to defraud.--

(1)**Whoever, with intent to defraud any person shall, in person or by agent, make, draw, utter, deliver, or give any check, draft, or written order for the payment of money upon any bank, person, or corporation and secure from such person goods or services for or on account of such check, draft, or written order, whether such goods or services are valued at the amount of such check, draft, or written order or at a greater or lesser value, and who shall, pursuant to and in furtherance of such intent to defraud, stop payment on such check, draft, or written order, shall be deemed to be guilty of a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082, s. 775.083, or s. 775.084, if the value of the goods or services secured for or on account of such check, draft, or written order is $150 or more; and if the value of the goods or services secured for or on account of such check, draft, or written order is less than $150, he or she shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

(2)**This section shall be taken to be cumulative and shall not be construed to repeal any other statute now in effect."

I am consulting an attorney on this matter.

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