What to do if I quit my job and my boss is now withholding my pay over lost keys?

UPDATED: Aug 22, 2012

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What to do if I quit my job and my boss is now withholding my pay over lost keys?

I recently moved. I worked for a company and due to my move I had to quit. I took some keys with me and was asked to mail them back before I was allowed to receive my pay check. They claim they receive my mail and the letter but state there were no keys inside. Now they are refusing to pay me. They are even claiming they want to use my last paycheck to redo all the locks for the keys they claim lost in the mail. Are they allowed to withhold and use my pay like this?

Asked on August 22, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) An  employer may not withhold an employee's pay without employee permission, even if the employee does owe the employer money. (Other than withholding required by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishment or tax withholding, that is.)

2) If you either deliberately or negligently cost your employer money, such as by losing keys, your employer could try to sue you for the cost--again, they cannot simply withhold the money, however. To win such a lawsuit, if they bring one, they would have to prove your intentional bad action (e.g. that you threw the keys away) or negligence (e.g. you lost them) and that the loss cause them to incur some cost or expense.

3) If you did not cause the loss (e.g. the employer is lying; or the employer did receive the keys but then lost them), you should not have to pay.

4) If you are not paid your wages, you could sue your employer for them, such as in small claims court.

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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