Can your employer keep your last paycheck because they say that you messed up their company car?

I put in my 2 week notice and worked out. My final paycheck was deposited on Friday and then withdrawn a couple of hours later. I called my former boss to see what was going on and she said that I wasn’t getting paid because I messed up the car that I drove for work; I didn’t.

Asked on June 1, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

An employer can always deduct for damage to company property or for other such "shortages" if exisiting company policy provides for this, or the terms of a union agreement or employment contract allow it., or an employee agrees to it. Otherwise, most states generally do not let an employer make such dedutions. That being said, other states allow for such deductions as long as minimum wage laws are not violated or if there has been malfeasance on the part of the employee.
As for withholding your paycheck under the circumstances, this may or may not be a violation of the law. In most cases, an employer has the right to be compensated for the loss or damage of company property. Depending on state statute, it can deduct for such damage or pay the employee and, in turn, have the employee pay the amount in question back over to them. If the employee does fails to do so, then the employer can seek its remedy at law and sue for the money. However, before be granted a judgement in its favor, the employer would first have to prove to the court's satisfaction that the money was in fact legitimately owed by the employee.
If your paycheck is being illegally withheld, you need to file a complaint with your state's department of labor and/or speak with an employment law attorney in your area.

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