CanI hold onto my ex-employer’s property until my last wage is paid for work completed?

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CanI hold onto my ex-employer’s property until my last wage is paid for work completed?

I was working casually using an I 9 for a company in LA. They have recently stopped my employment and are refusing to pay me my last months wage until I return their kit and sign a new I 9 and confidentiality agreement. I don’t want to sign the agreement. They can have the kit but I am afraid if I give it to them they will not ever pay me. What are my rights? Can I keep the kit until I get paid? Do I have to sign the confidentiality agreement to get paid?

Asked on January 4, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Both you and the employer seem to be acting, or contemplating acting, improperly:

1) They have no right to hold you pay until you return the kit; if you did the work, you must be paid for it,  and if you should not return the kit, their recourse would be to sue you for its value.

2) They have no right to make you sign any new agreements to be paid money you have already earned--you have to get that money regardless; they are free to offer you something (e.g. some additional money, or benefits, etc.) in order to sign, however.

3) You have no right to hold onto their property to make them pay. If they don't pay you, your recourse is to sue them. Holding onto their property unlawfully potentially opens you up to liability.


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