Can an employer hold a check?

My boyfriend is in jail but signed a notarized
paper giving me financial responsibilities. His
employer is holding his check saying he owed
him money but his employer doesnt have
record of how much he owes or what for. What
steps do I need to take to get his employer to
release his check for the amount he has
earned?

Asked on November 2, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

A "notarized paper giving [you] financial responsibilities" does not actually give you any legal rights or authority, unless it was not just notarized but also was signed in the presence of at least one witness who was not the notary (or relative of, employee, partner or associate of, the notary) and who also signed the document: without that additional witness, the paper fails to qualify as a power of attorney and so does not convey any power.
Even if it was witnessed and signed properly, you are not (we presume) an attorney, and so you cannot directly represent your boyfriend in court; only lawyers can represent other people in court. (A power of attorney can give you the power to *hire* the lawyer, but you'd still need the attorney for court.) Unfortunately, if they won't voluntarily pay, the only way to force them to pay is by suing; only a successful lawsuit forces someone to pay one when they don't want to. Since you'd need a lawyer, even in small claims court, assume you will (broadly speaking) have to pay $500 - $1,000 in your state for the case; it may not be economically worthwhile to take legal action.


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