I work as an independent contractor. I was working regularly for a company that direct deposited payments for work completed. Can they withhold for any reason, earnings for work I have completed the previous week?

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I work as an independent contractor. I was working regularly for a company that direct deposited payments for work completed. Can they withhold for any reason, earnings for work I have completed the previous week?

They are trying to withhold money from what I earned at an agreed upon wage, for a took rental that was a few days

late. It was rented by their company, in their name, and i was tasked in taking it across state for return. It accrued a couple days of late payments and the company I was working under is trying to withhold.

Asked on August 11, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, they may not, unless there was some agreement between you and them that you would pay any such fees, etc. *and* that they could take the money directly out of you pay. Otherwise, without such an agreement, they are either breaching the "contract" (the agreement, whether oral or written, between you and them according to which you worked) if you are a contractor, or violating labor law if you should actually be considered an employee. Whether or not you may owe the money (see below), a check to you cannot be withheld without agreement to do so.  In either event, you could sue them for the money. If they believe that you in turn owe them money for the "late payments," they have the right to sue you (or countersue/counterclaim in a lawsuit you bring against them); to win, they'd have to prove that you were negligent (unreasonably careless) in some way, and that caused them to incur costs or fees. Note that if you were negligent in returing the truck late, you *will* be responsible for any late payments if the sue or counersue. Therefore, if what you cost the company is more or less equal to the paycheck they are holding, you may wish to leave matters as they are, since it will not help you to get a judgment against them the check, if they simultaneously get a judgment against you for the same (or if the fees, etc. were large, potentially more) money; while the way they did this is wrong (they should not have simply withheld the check), at the end of the day, if you did cost them money, they can get that from you.


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