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?

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 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.


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