Is it legal to withhold a final paycheck because of vacation time used?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Is it legal to withhold a final paycheck because of vacation time used?

After 90 days of employment with my previous company they gave me 40 hours of vacation and 10 hours of sick leave. I worked there for a total of 9 months. Upon termination, I was told that I would not receive a final paycheck because I owed that vacation time and sick leave back. Is this legal or can I do something about it?

Asked on August 3, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It would only be legal if you were made aware *before* using the sick and vacation leave that IF you used it, you could be charged back for it against your final paycheck under certain circumstances, and those circumstances occured or applied. Otherwise, no: they cannot charge you back for the days without prior notice this could happen, and they cannot take the time out of your paycheck without your consent or agreement (including consent in advance, such as by you taking or using days with knowledge you could be charged back for them). If they took the money out improperly, try contacting your state department of labor and filing a complaint; if that doesn't work, you could sue (e.g. in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se") for the money.

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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