What to do if I’m a contract employee and the company that I do work for withheld my last paycheck and states that I owe them money for overcharges?

UPDATED: Nov 29, 2012

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What to do if I’m a contract employee and the company that I do work for withheld my last paycheck and states that I owe them money for overcharges?

Can they sue me if we never signed a contract?

Asked on November 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Even if you do owe the company money (see below), they may not withhold your paycheck if you are an employee--that is, a W-2 employee, not a 1099 "employee" (independent contractor). Employees may only have their pay withheld if they consent (agree) to it, or as required by law (e.g. court-ordered wage garnishment).

2) If you are an employee and the company believes you owe them money, such as for overcharges, their recourse is to sue you for that amount.

3) If you are an independent contractor, if the company believes you  owe it money, it may be entitled to withhold it from the sums it owes you, as a set off against those sums; this could potentially result in your whole check being withheld, if you owe it more than it owes you.

If you feel the company has illegally withheld money--withheld amounts it is not entitled to--you could sue it to recover those amounts, including possibly suing in small claims court, where you could act as your own attorney.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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