Under what circumstances can an employer withhold a final paycheck?

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Under what circumstances can an employer withhold a final paycheck?

I resigned from my job back in June, and when the pay period came and went, I received no final paycheck. I e-mailed my former boss. He responded, alleging that I had been “negligent” in handling a client file (after some digging, I found out that he was lying and can prove it). He said that he was deducting time out of my pay and that I may not receive any payment. If my former boss is alleging negligence, can he get away with this under DC law (I live in VA, worked in DC)?

Asked on August 2, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Even if you were negligent, the employer has no right to withhold your final paycheck, in whole or in part. Employees must be paid for all hours worked--if he believes that you did not actually work all the hours you claimed, he could try to pay you just for the hours he acknowledges (and if you disagree, you could sue him or file a complaint with the department of labor). However, an employer may not offset a claim of employee negligence against the employee's paycheck. If the employer thinks you were negligent, his recourse is to sue you for damages you caused by negligence (and you would then have the opportunity to defend yourself in court).


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