Can my former company charge me for a defective laptop?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my former company charge me for a defective laptop?

I recently resigned for a oil and gas company. They issued me 2 laptopshandy downs that were in tough shape but still worked. When I turned in all of my issued equipment I was told I was fine and would not get charged for anything. I come to find out they had charged me $600 for a damaged laptop. I have emailed them asking if I could get a refund or pick up the laptop. Take note that this laptop is not near worth $600 maybe not even $100. They told me that they would ship it to the main office, an 8 hour drive, and I could pick it up there. What can I do to get my $600 back or at least a laptop worth $600? I’m pretty sure I signed a paper saying that the company can deduct my pay for

damaged items but I did not damage it.

Asked on July 24, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you signed something that said they can deduct for damage, then IF you damaged it, they could deduct the cost to repair (if possible) or the then-current value (if repair is not possible, or if the repair cost exceeds the value; similar to "totalling" a car, they can get the lesser of repair cost or  current value). So the issues are 1) did you cause the damage; and 2) even if you did, did they overcharge you? If you believe that you did not cause the damage and/or that they are charging more than the laptop is worth, you could sue your employer for "breach of contract" for compensation: to recover money from them because they are violating the terms of the agreement you signed. For this amount of money, suing in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se," is a very good option.

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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