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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12804
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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An employee quit and on his last day turned in the company

Customer Question

An employee quit and on his last day turned in the company vehicle with over $1000 in damages. I with held the amount as a lien until he paid for the damages incurred. I know I cannot withhold the amount without his written consent, which of course he is not going to do, so I feel this is my only re course to make sure he pays for this extensive damage. Am I legal in doing so. I am in illinois
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
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Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. I appreciate the situation you are in, but am trying to reconcile these statements:
"I with held the amount as a lien."
" I know I cannot withhold the amount without his written consent..."
"Am I legal in doing so."
It seems you are acknowledging that your action is illegal but asking if it is legal. Am I not understanding?
I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
no, I just tried to state that the only way I feel I will be able to recover this large amount would be the hold the money as a lien until I either have to sue him or what ever my other legal actions will permit
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
are you there?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
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.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello again,
I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.
In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.
Very best wishes.