Can my previous employer withhold my paycheck for courses that she wanted me to take?

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Can my previous employer withhold my paycheck for courses that she wanted me to take?

I had an independent contractor agreement with a real estate company to provide administrative services. My boss wanted me to take my real estate exam and get my real estate license, which I did. She paid for the course and the exam fees. I left that position a few weeks ago, and she has applied my last paycheck towards the fees that it cost her. There is nothing signed stating who would pay for

these fees, nor have I ever received an invoice, until today in the mail. Is this legal?

Asked on April 24, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not legal unless there was an agreement that you would repay her under these circumstances. (If there, such an agreement is enforceable.) Without an agreement to repay, you are under no obligation to do so: she may have chosen to pay for the course/license, but did not have to, and her voluntary choice to pay for it does not obligate you to repay it without your agreement or consent to do so. You could sue her (e.g. in small claims court) for the money; you would sue the company and also her, assuming they are not one and the same.


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