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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 16188
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Can an employer hold the personal property of an ex- employee

Customer Question

Can an employer hold the personal property of an ex- employee as collateral for an unspecified debt?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 5 years ago.

ScottyMacEsq :

Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am researching your issue and will respond shortly.

ScottyMacEsq :

What is the property and the value of the property that is being held by the ex-employer?

Customer:

It is a tool box and tools valued at about $3500 that we purchased ourselves

ScottyMacEsq :

Legally speaking, no, they cannot do this, unless there is a mechanics or materialmans' lien on it (which there almost certainly is not). Otherwise, them retaining your personal property would constitute "conversion" (civil theft) and would be actionable. Now whether or not you can get the police involved depends on their willingness to be a part of it. In my experience, 99% of the time, the police will say it's a civil matter and that they're not going to get involved.

ScottyMacEsq :

Do a search on the web for your county and "small claims court." You should find either a website or phone number to the small claims clerk. Ask them what you need to do to bring such a lawsuit. The small claims clerk will give you guidance on how to file this suit and how to get the other party served with notice. You will receive a hearing date, at which you should present your evidence and ask for a judgment for the return of the tools, plus your fees and costs.

ScottyMacEsq :

Since this is a tort, Texas law does not allow for the recovery of attorney's fees should you use an attorney, which is why I would suggest filing this on your own.

ScottyMacEsq :

You can, in an attempt to avoid going to court, send a demand letter hoping they'll return the tools to you. Send a demand letter demanding payment within 30 days, otherwise you will pursue legal action against him, seeking that amount plus any additional damages as allowed by law. Send this letter certified, return receipt requested, as well as a copy sent regular mail. Keep a copy for yourself, as well as the return receipt number so that you can show the court that you made a demand for the unreturned tools.

ScottyMacEsq :

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please select the "accept" button. If you have already clicked "accept", or if you will in the future, please let me know so I can track these for my own reports and customer satisfaction stats. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX good luck to you!

Customer:

Thank you!

ScottyMacEsq and other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
If I pay the money for the claim of the employer to get the return of my tools do I have any recourse after that point?
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 5 years ago.
If you make it clear that you're not waiving any rights or ratifying any actions, you can probably sue after that point. But the fact that you're paying your employer in the first place would make it more difficult to recover that money after the fact.