Wht to do if I am an auto mechanic and my former employer will not release my tools to me?

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Wht to do if I am an auto mechanic and my former employer will not release my tools to me?

I quit there about 1 1/2- 2 years ago but left my tools because my friends were using them and I did not mind lending their use to the shop; also I was placed on probation and it was difficult to leave the county if was in to get them. Now I am going back to work and need them but my former employer says tht he sold them to one of his new employees and there’s nothing he can do. However, he never tried contacting me or anything. I passed by there one day and a lot of the tools are missing but I would still like to get back what I can so that I can get this job. I can’t get hired with no tools and I can’t afford to buy new ones either.

Asked on January 11, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You can try and sue under a theory that is known as bailment and conversion, where property is entrusted to another for safe keeping and the other party does something - like selling the property - to the detriment of the owner.  The person entrusted is known as the bailee and generally they are not entitled to use of the property during possession.  You state you were ok with them using them.  Could be a hitch.  If you sue for their return then you can not sue in small claims (return is an equitable relief and small claims does not grant such relief). You will have to sue for the value of the tools and that will allow you to buy new ones.  Good luck.


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