What can I do if my ex-employer is charging me for clothes that I thought were a gift?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What can I do if my ex-employer is charging me for clothes that I thought were a gift?

My ex-boss bought me clothes so I could look better when I join him on his meetings. I thanked him for it and presumed that he gave me these clothes. After I quit my job was only there for 2 months I left with the clothes as I thought it was a gift. They then sent me the bill, of which I replied and said, I never wanted these clothes and I am happy to return them. So, they said they have no use for used clothes and that I should pay them back. Am I in trouble here?

Asked on April 5, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you were told before accepting the clothese that you'd have to pay for them and accepted them with that knoweldge or understanding, you'd have to pay for them: in that case, you would have agreed to pay for the clothes.
But if you never were told you'd have to pay for them before being given them, it would have been reasonable to think they were a gift or a bonus, or simply an expense the company bore for its own benefit (e.g. so you'd look better in meetings). If they gave you clothing without at the time telling you that you'd have to pay for it, they cannot after the fact require you to pay; they can't retroactively turn what would, under the circumstances, have seemed to be a gift or bonus into a loan or advance. Rather, to obligate someone to pay or repay, the person must have agreed to the terms in advance. d on what you write, you do not appear to owe for the clothing. That does not mean, by the way, that they could not try to sue you for the money--almost anyone can file a suit for almost anything--but based on what you write, you would appear to have a good defence to liability.

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