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

UPDATED: Jan 4, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 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.

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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