Can my boss threaten to sue me for company losses related to poor job performance if I do not sign a waiver releasing my last paycheck?

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Can my boss threaten to sue me for company losses related to poor job performance if I do not sign a waiver releasing my last paycheck?

I left my job to relocate. I worked as a remote technician for a company based in another state. My job duties became to much for me. 9 months before vacating the job, I requested from my employer extra help to lighten my load because I was falling behind on my work. He only hired extra help a month before my last day. My employer incurred financial losses due to my poor job performance. He states I can sign a waiver releasing my last paycheck, and him from suing me and if I don’t. then he can and will sue me for the losses. Is this legal? If he does sue, what legal recouse do I have?

Asked on August 25, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Connecticut

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you caused your employer losses either deliberately (e.g. you deliberately did not do the work you were supposed to, or deliberately did a bad job) or negligently, which is unreasonable carelessness, then the employer could potentially sue you for the loss. However, you might only be liable if you did act intentionally or negligently; if you simply did not do your job as well as you might have, that does NOT provide grounds to sue you. It's also not grounds to sue you if your job was simply impossible and that's why you couldn't do it (e.g. too much work for one person).

That said, it's hard to stop someone from at least filing a lawsuit and forcing you to spend time and money to defend yourself; if you feel that your employer is the kind of person who will sue you no matter what, you may wish to consider whether it might make sense to sign over the check (or at least part of it, if you can work something out) to avoid a lawsuit. That is an unfair thing to have to consider, but sometimes you need to at least think about it.


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