What to do if I was laid off and the company is threatening to withhold my pay if I don’t complete some documents for them?

UPDATED: Jun 19, 2015

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What to do if I was laid off and the company is threatening to withhold my pay if I don’t complete some documents for them?

I have returned all company property inlcuding notes flash drives and audio recordings necessary to complete this task. What can I do?

Asked on June 19, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

The may NOT withhold any pay earned for hours/days actually worked if you do not complete documents, though they are allowed to refuse to give you severance unless you sign documents. That is because severance is optional--companies are not required to offer or provide it--and since it is optional, they can put conditions on receiving it. For example, a common condition is to require the employee to sign a separation and release agreement under which he or she agrees to not sue the company; a less common, but not unheard of, condition is to require the employee to document the state of all his or her projects and how he/she did his/her job.

So if it's severance you're talking about, they can do this. If it's your final paycheck for work you did, they can't--and if they try to, you can file a complaint with your state labor department or sue them (such as in small claims court) for the money.

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