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The employer of one of my family members owes several thousand dollars in unpaid wages, which is documented in the employer's books. The family is considering legal action and they want to demand copies of the books as evidence (the employer never provided any formal pay stubs). The state (Pennsylvania) does have laws requiring employers to permit inspection and copying of payroll documents. However, there is significant concern that the employer (a rather sleazy independent contractor) may simply destroy or doctor the books to hide what is owed.

So, my question is two-fold: Are there any legal tools to allow an employee to obtain copies of his payroll documents without giving the employer an opportunity to destroy said documents, and what sort of repercussions would an employer face for destroying payroll documentation after a request for copies has been made?

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what sort of repercussions would an employer face for destroying payroll documentation

Serious ones. Record keeping is required by the Fair Labor Standards Act, independently of whether there is an ongoing dispute or not.

https://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs21.pdf

Or, for more details:

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=6ed1b6e0e73541547a3ca78d87ee2663&r=PART&n=29y3.1.1.1.13

So, I would not worry about the employer destroying records.

Also, from http://www.flsa.com/faq.html:

If an employer does not maintain the required records, the employee is entitled to recover based on good faith, reasonable and realistic estimates.

So, destroying records would not even do the employer much good, as the employee can recover based on estimation of the amount owed.

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  • Those references were very helpful, thank you! – MikeB Mar 3 '17 at 0:05

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