Ex employer withholding last paycheck – says he can do it because of my “contract” – is this legal?

I was working for a “temp” agency with a one year contract-to-hire. I did get hired on full time with the actual company. Now the old employer, the contracting agency, is withholding my last paycheck. They claim that it is because I did not provide them 2 weeks notice before I got hired on full time. Lo and behold, it is in my contract, buried within 6 pages that if I don’t provide 2 weeks notice, they can withhold my check for “damages”.Okay, I messed up, but I know they knew I was getting hired on, it was a 1 year contract-to-hire. Are they playing dumb to get my check? Is this even leg

Asked on June 15, 2009 under Employment Labor Law, Maryland

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If it was in your contact, it was legal. Maybe not "moral" or "fair," but legal. And if it was a legal clause in your contract, they had no obligation to take notice of anything *but* or other than your official notice to them of your being hired on. So even if they knew, if you did not provide notice the way you were supposed to, they can withhold the check.

That's not to say you should give up. If you have *any* evidence (preferably something in writing) that shows that *you* told someone there you were being hired on, you can and should argue that constituted the required notice. And if you have such evidence, of a communication from you, you might be able to get them to pay you. However, if you did not provide any documentation, warning, or other information about the change in your status and it's just that the temp agency knew from other sources, then I doubt you'll win--without some communication, even a not-quite-the-right one, directly from you, it will be very hard to prove that *you* provide notice in any fashion, as your contract appears to call for.


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