Thank you for clarifying.
Unfortunately, you are correct in your assumption that you cannot withhold the money without written consent, and that the employee almost certainly will not provide written consent. Pursuant to 820 ILCS 115/5, an employer must pay a resigning employee ALL of their final earned wages
by the next regularly scheduled pay period
. Failure to do so can result in the imposition of steep penalties.
Regretfully, all you can do is sue to recover the damage. The problem with even this, however, is that damage which resulted from ordinary negligence will not be recoverable. You would need to prove that "recklessness" or intentional misconduct was the cause of the damage, and that will be very difficult to do unless you can cite a specific incident as the cause of the damage and have proof as to how the incident occurred.
Damage resulting from ordinary negligence is not the employee's legal responisbility to pay for, as the employer always assumes the risk of such losses as part of doing business. To hold an employee liable for damage resulting from ordinary negligence would effectively be to convert the employee into your insurer. The law does not function this way.
So, not only would it be improper to withhold the wages, but it is unlikely there is any legal basis to hold the employee liable even if you took them to court.
I wish that I could provide better news, but I trust you will appreciate an honest answer to your question.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate
to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.