What are my rights if my ex-employer has my tools and refuses to return them to me?

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What are my rights if my ex-employer has my tools and refuses to return them to me?

I worked for a helicopter company and as part of the job requirement you have to have your own tools, for which I had spent thousands. Then 4 months ago, I had lost my job due to the bosses favorite chief not liking me. I got along with everyone else and the other chiefs fine, just that one guy. They told me to just leave and that they’d send my tool box via UPS. It’s several months later and no matter how many times I ask them about it, or how often I call, they just keep giving back a neutral response. I would go pick it up but it’s 3 hours away and I literally can’t afford to.

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They have no right to keep your tools. If they do not return them, you could sue for their return (and/or for their value, if they've been lost, damaged, destroyed, etc.).

Unfortunately, if they will not return them, your only option is to sue. Therefore, if you can get them some other way--even if it requires you to drive or take a bus, etc. 3 hours each way--it is probably better to do so. If you need to sue, you can try to sue in small claims court, to reduce costs (i.e. you don't need a lawyer).


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