Can your boss withhold your final paycheck?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can your boss withhold your final paycheck?

My boss is refusing to give me my check because I quit. He said until he calculates what I owe for an accident I was in using one of the company cars, he won’t be giving me any money. Is he allowed to do that and shouldn’t insurance be paying for damages?

Asked on September 15, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) No, he can't withhold your final paycheck (or any paycheck) without your consent (agreement) or a court order (such as for wage garnishment), even if you do owe him money. He has to pay you, but could sue you if the believes you in turn owe him money. Employees MUST be paid even when the owe the company money, unless they agree otherwise.
2) If you caused damage to a company car and were at fault in causing it (e.g. driving negligently or carelessly), you can be sued for the money instead of the company placing an insurance; anyone who carelessly damages another's property can be held liable for it.
3) Even if the company does put in an insurnace claim, if you were at fault, the insurer can sue you for the money: you can be required, as an at-fault driver, to reimburse the insurance for the claim.
If you were at fault and caused significant damage, you may wish to let him keep the check; the alternative is, you can sue for it, but he'll likely in turn sue you for the damage. It may be best to just see if you can call it even.

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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