What can you do, if your former employer refuses to provide receipt of uniforms your are returning?

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What can you do, if your former employer refuses to provide receipt of uniforms your are returning?

I just left my job and want to return my uniform and badges. However, I’ve heard other former employees have had money deducted from their final paychecks even after returning company property (i.e. uniforms, badges, etc.). I put together and brief letter for both the employer and I to sign, stating the property has been returned and therefore waiving any responsibility. If they refused to sign the letter when I bring in the property, should I then have another letter stating I attempted to return the uniforms and bring a witness with me or what? My former employer is very untrustworthy and this is one main reason I resigned recently. I don’t want them to possibly take any funds from my last paycheck. What do you recommend I do?

Asked on October 31, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless your employee handbook clearly and specifically states that deductions for unreturned uniforms will be made--or there is some other written agreement to that effect--you employer *can't* legally deduct for your uniform without your agreement or consent to let them do so. If they do improperly take money--i.e. take money without something in writing giving them the right--you could contact the state department of labor to file a complaint and/or sue them in small claims court.
If they do have something in writing in the employee handbook or a separate agreement, however, then they could deduct.
You can't make them sign anything against their will, so if they won't sign a receipt you provide, having a back-up letter won't help. (If you do want to increase the odds of the receipt being signed, make it *just* a receipt: the more you put in about policy, claims, etc. the greater the chance that the manager or coworker receiving the uniform will refuse to sign.) Having a witness when you return could be useful if you have to file a claim; also, you could use a phone or digital camera to take a date and time stamped picture of what you are returning.
If they lie and try to deduct for things you returned, you could sue, such as in small claims, for the money, if doing so is economically worthwhile.


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