Belongings being held hostage

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Belongings being held hostage

I was working a temp to hire job. I was called by the
agency Friday night after I got home from work and
told that my assignment had ended. I had personal
belongings which were left at their office as I did not
know when I left on Friday. The company keeps
jerking me around and will not return my belongings
to me. The agency I worked for has tried to get my
things as well. Can they legally do this?

Asked on August 17, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, they cannot legally keep your belongings. Unfortunately, while it's worth a call to the police to see if they will help, they usually don't: the police typically see this sort of dispute as not in their baliwick. In that case, the only way to get your belongings back is to sue for them. The easiest way is to sue for their monetary *value*, not specifically for their return, in small claims court (to oversimplify: almost any court, including small claims, can issue a monetary judgment; but only "regular" county court can issue a court order compelling someone to return a specific item, and lawsuits for such are more procedurally complex, costly, and slow). Sue on a "pro se" (as your own attorney) basis in small claims court, then ideally settle the case by them returning the items.


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