How long am I required to keep an employee’s belongings after their termination?

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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How long am I required to keep an employee’s belongings after their termination?

I fired an employee and she has not come in to pick up her belongings and they are just sitting in the HR office. It has been over a month. I haven’t heard from her at all. Can I throw it away? I should also mention that we live an at-will state.

Asked on August 20, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

To be safe, send her a written communication, sent some ways you can prove delivery (e.g. text, email, and, if you have an address, Fed Ex or certified mail) reiterating how long she has left her belongings there and you prior efforts to have her get them, stating that you did not agree to store them for her, and stating specifically that unless she retrieves them within twenty (20) days, you will discard them. Then if she does not comply, throw them out, but retain the communications and proof of delivery.

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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