Can a former employer withhold money from my final paycheck without a previous agreement?

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Can a former employer withhold money from my final paycheck without a previous agreement?

I recently left a position with a day care center because our principals did not compliment each other. To work at the center, I had to have a background check which the company paid for. When I recently went to complete paperwork to be paid for my time, my former employer informed me that she was with holding the cost of my background check. There was never an agreement that if I should leave that the costs would be with held. Does she have a legal right to with hold the money with no previous agreement?

Asked on November 16, 2011 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) She has no right to charge this expense to you in any way unless prior to you applying for the job (or at least prior to the check being done), she told you that you would be charged the cost (at least under certain circumstances) and you agreed to go ahead with the application process knowing of the cost. She cannot unilaterally impose the cost on you after the fact, without your prior agreement.

2) Even you you have to pay this cost, it is very unlikely she can take it out of a paycheck, including your final check, without your agreement to let her do so. The law frowns on paycheck deductions unless they are voluntary. If she thinks you owe her money, the proper recourse for her is to sue you for it.

Since she appears to be acting improperly on at least one, if not two grounds, you could sue her for your check. You could possibly sue in small claims court and represent yourself, to save legal fees. Good luck.


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