Can my previous job hold my paycheck?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my previous job hold my paycheck?

I left the job a couple weeks ago and was supposed to receive my final days of

working there yesterday through direct deposit. Now, the owner is holding my check for a key that I told him I had lost 2 months ago while I was still working there. I would like to take him to court. None of the managers are responding back to my messages as well as the owner. What should I do?

Asked on October 20, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can sue the owner: the law does not allow an employer to withhold employee pay (or take any deductions from it) without either 1) employee consent or agreement, or 2) a court order for wage garnishment, such as for child support or if you had lost a lawsuit but not paid. Without consent or court order, you must be paid, even if the employer thinks you owe them for something. (If they do believe you owe them something, such as the cost to rekey a lock, they are free to sue you for the money--that is their only legal recourse.)

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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