How do I resign before my contract is up without losing my last paycheck?

I signed a contract when hired on for a
public transit job that trained me for
my cdl license.The contract stated that
I remain employed with the company until
the cost of the training and licensing
is paid off over an 18 month period.
After obtaining my license I was given a
medical benefit package that costs me
40 of my earnings I am a single mother
with 2 kids and absolutely cannot live
on the remaining income. I need to
resign but I also cannot afford to have
my final paycheck held back to cover the
costs of licensing.

Asked on November 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Even if you owe the for the balance of the licensing, training, etc. cost, they can only withhold your final check legally if the contract specifically says they can withhold it or take any unpaid amounts out of your final check. The law is very clear that an employer may only deduct from or withhold employee pay with employee consent or agreement, or as ordered by a court or the IRS (e.g. wage garnishment). If an employee owes money to the employer when she leaves, unless the employee consent or agreed to let the employer keep pay, the employer is supposed to pay her, but then can sue her for any money she owes.
Unfortunately, while that is the law, that does not mean your empoyer will not try to withhold the check, forcing you to sue them for the money. Even in small claims, that will take weeks at least. Or you could file a complaint with the Dept. of Labor, but that will also likely take weeks. While you are legally entitled to your last check, you have to be able to get past a few week delay if they wrongfully withhold it and you are forced to pay for it.

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