Can an employer keep a final paycheck to cover past due expense costs?

UPDATED: Oct 7, 2011

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Can an employer keep a final paycheck to cover past due expense costs?

I owed the company I worked for approximately $490. When they terminated me they informed me that they kept my final pay to cover the debt. Can they do that?

Asked on October 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, an employer is restricted from making unauthorized deductions from a final paycheck (other than those required by state or federal law, etc). So unless you have a union agreement or employment contract, or express company policy allows for this, or you have given your consent, such deductions are illegal. You can file a complaint with your state's department of labor for a violation.
Note: This doesn't mean that you still don't owe the money, just that a paycheck deduction is not the proper method of re-payment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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