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

UPDATED: Jul 6, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

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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