Executive Management and company owners can be held personally liable for failure to remit workers compensation and unemployment insurance contributions. This effectively avoids any relief in bankruptcy, because such fines are not dischargeable. However, the fines wouldn't help an employee, because the fines are paid to the government.
The employee has a priority claim for up to $11,725 in prebankruptcy wages if earned during the 180 days prior to filing bankruptcy. Bankr. Code 507(a)(4).
The facts you describe could show that the owners should be held personally liable, because the company is really an alter ego for the owners, rather than a separate organization. You would have to bring an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court (i.e., a lawsuit), show that the employer and the owners are really one and the same, that they have plundered the company, rather than pay wages to the employees, and that they should be forced into personal involuntary bankruptcy or disgorge their profits to the bankruptcy estate.
For a bankruptcy attorney referral, see this link.
Hope this helps.
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