Can we hold company property until my husband is paid what his ex-employer owes him?

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Can we hold company property until my husband is paid what his ex-employer owes him?

My husband quit his job. He was owed a reimbursement check for gas and other supplies we had put out of our pocket. The check was due about 3 weeks ago but nobody seems to be able to tell us anything about where it is or when we will get it. So he told them he was done. (other issues lead to this leaving as well), we also have not received his last pay check. We returned just about all company property, cell phones keys, paint, tools, etc. but we still have a few things, because my husband doesn’t want to return the rest of items until we are paid what he is owed but they want to press charges.

Asked on September 25, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You have no right to hold a person's or business's property as payment or security for a debt unless they actually gave you a security interest in the property (e.g. it was collateral for whatever you are owed). Otherwise, you committing a form of theft (e.g. conversion) and may be sued and/or face criminal liability. If your husband is owed money by the company, the proper way to get it is to sue; that includes suing in small claims court, where the costs are much lower (for example, he can represent himself and not need to hire an attorney; the filing fees are lower, too) and where cases also generally more faster. Good luck.


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