Can a former employer charge you locksmith fees if you do not return your key?

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Can a former employer charge you locksmith fees if you do not return your key?

When I was fired from my job and asked to return my key, I found that I had honestly misplaced it. They are now saying that I am liable for re-keying the entire building because all of the doors use the same key. They also still have my last paycheck (approximately $250, which I might be willing to part with to help do this) but how much monetarily can I be liable for? Can they turn around and say that it cost $1000 or something?

Asked on July 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you cost your employer money through negligence, or carelessness, such as by losing keys and requring them to rekey, you are liable for the reasonable cost to repair or replace. If the  employer does not "pad" the bill but passes on its actual cost, and that cost is more-or-less inline with what the typical locksmith would charge, you are potentially liable for it, whatever it is.

The employer may not withhold your paycheck unless you agree to let it do so (though you may choose to do so, as part of settling any debt). The employer may, however, sue you for any amounts it believes you owe it.


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