Belongings being held hostage

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Belongings being held hostage

I was working a temp to hire job. I was called by the
agency Friday night after I got home from work and
told that my assignment had ended. I had personal
belongings which were left at their office as I did not
know when I left on Friday. The company keeps
jerking me around and will not return my belongings
to me. The agency I worked for has tried to get my
things as well. Can they legally do this?

Asked on August 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot legally keep your belongings. Unfortunately, while it's worth a call to the police to see if they will help, they usually don't: the police typically see this sort of dispute as not in their baliwick. In that case, the only way to get your belongings back is to sue for them. The easiest way is to sue for their monetary *value*, not specifically for their return, in small claims court (to oversimplify: almost any court, including small claims, can issue a monetary judgment; but only "regular" county court can issue a court order compelling someone to return a specific item, and lawsuits for such are more procedurally complex, costly, and slow). Sue on a "pro se" (as your own attorney) basis in small claims court, then ideally settle the case by them returning the items.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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