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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37883
Experience:  I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
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Can an employer take all of my final paycheck if they terminate

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Can an employer take all of my final paycheck if they terminate me? I was a W2 employee in Arizona. My employer fired me for an unknown reason. I had a company credit card. They took my final paycheck the day they fired me plus my vacation time to zero it out. They left me with nothing.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you if I can.

On what basis was your paycheck taken? Did you owe money to the employer? What was the removal of the funds based on, what happened?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I had a company credit card that i am responsible to pay. I had been making my normal payments on the card like i always do. It was a company credit card with normal IT purchases.


 


They called me into the office and let me know they were terminating me. Would not tell me why. I have never been written up in my life with this company. I still am not sure why i was fired. I was never given a reason.


 


I was just told i was being let go.


 


I had about 40 hours of vacation plus about a week and a half of salary that would have been given to me. Instead they told me they were taking my final pay and applying it to my company credit card balance to zero it out.


 


I did not sign anything. I asked them what i did to be terminated they said it was time to go.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your follow-up.

Four questions if I may. Did you, at any time ever sign any document under which you agreed to permit the employer to withhold funds or remove funds owed to them from your wages?

Second, did you personally pay this card or did the employer pay for this card?

Third, how big was this balance owed to the employer, do your know? if you know, was the amount taken from you, or withheld the right amount owed?

How large is this employer, how many employees?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

1.) I signed a document i believe when they gave me the card but i do not have it as it was signed electronically and printed to pdf on my employee drive which was on my company provided laptop. I am not aware of what its terms and conditions were. It was a chase mastercard provided on behalf of the company with my name on it.


 


2.) I personally paid this card. They reimbursed me. It is my responsibility to pay the card. I had been making regular payments to the credit card balance as they reimbursed me. The expenses left on the card were about a months worth of expenses.


 


The balance was $3600. I had just made a payment, which i cancelled already of $400. I am unsure of what the actual balance is because i now cannot check the card's balance or activity. They asked me to turn it in upon termination.


 


The employer is a major construction company here in the valley. I was brought on initially as a contractor to help them with 3 major project migrations. I was hired as W2 in January because they asked me to stay on at a lower rate with benefits.


 


I finished the projects on this past monday to completion. On wednesday they let me go.


 


They said my final check with 50% of my vacation time was to be around $3200, which seemed light. My weekly was $1735. 3 days of the week would have been an additional 1041 and i believe i had around 37 hours of vacation. I dont know why i lost vacation time too being terminated. It doesnt seem right.


 


At any rate i got paid nothing. not even a final paycheck.

Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your follow-up.

A couple of things that concern me and likely may give you potential grounds to pursue.

1. The reason I asked is generally an employer CANNOT withhold funds without permission or consent from the employee (or independent contractor). Withholding wages without cause is violation under state employment laws. Their behavior here could only be legal if you ever signed an agreement permitting them such behavior. if you do not remember signing anything, or cannot find it, you can at least ostensibly consider this a violation and pursue the employer for violations. This is important, and I suggest you try to find your contracts if you can.

2. This point, that you paid for the card yourself, makes it more likely they had no right or basis to withhold without a court order.

3. Even if the employer has the right to withhold, he must do so solely for the amount owed and no more. In other words you are owed an accounting or an invoice of time.

4. Vacation time is somewhat arguable. Some employers grant vacation not for the year but for how long worked. For example if you are entitled to 10 days a year, you would obtain roughly one day a month and no more. It is rare where an employer grants you all the days up-front. So consider doing a calculation based on your hours worked and how many vacation days you would be entitled to so as to figure out your owed obligation. This may be more questionable accounting, or it may be quite right--in my experience vacation days are not often incorrectly calculated but as the first issue here is quite questionable I still urge you to calculate it for yourself.

I am genuinely sorry for your loss of employment, they however do not have to explain in an 'at-will' situation. Please let me know if I can assist in any other way, or you wish for me to clarify anything else.

As an aside, I will be offline for just a few minutes so if you do have additional responses, my answers may be somewhat delayed--please do not hold that against me, I will reply as soon as I am able.

Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37883
Experience: I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
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