Is it legal for an employer to hold your last paycheck?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal for an employer to hold your last paycheck?

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day was my last day at work. I am a social worker. My employer checked my charts and there was a few missing notes and she threatened me that if I did not get them in she would put a request in to hold my last paycheck until they are in the charts. Is this legal? Can she do this?

Many states have different laws regarding what an employer may or may not deduct from an employee’s paycheck and many of the penalties for violating these laws are stiff. For example, in Oregon, an employer may not withhold a final paycheck or make deductions from an employee’s paycheck for employer required tools or uniforms – and contracts signed by an employee allowing such a deduction are not permitted. You need to check the wage deduction statutes in your jurisdiction before you withhold the paycheck or deduct the amount of the uniforms from the paycheck to see if it is allowed.

Asked on December 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Many states have different laws regarding the withholding of a final paycheck and what an employer may or may not deduct from an employee's paycheck. Many of the penalties for violating these laws are severe. In NY, there are no circumstances under which an employer can totally withhold a final paycheck; employers are typically required to issue a final paycheck containing compensation for all earned, unpaid wages. If you are unable to obtain your last paycheck, you can file a claim for unpaid wages with your state's Department of Labor and/or sue your former employer 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 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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