If my boss is withholding my checks claiming that I owe for lost equipment, is that legal?
Question Details: I was a contractor for a local cable company. They have altered the pay multiple times this year and with the most recent change want contractors to run cable lines without being compensated, causing us to lose a significant amount of money for doing by far the most labor intensive aspect of the install. I was told to rewire an entire house for only $75 or I would have my tech turned off. I should have made close to $250 off of that job when being compensated for lines. I refused and my was turned off. Now the company is holding me responsible for equipment that has been returned but they cannot locate, and my boss is withholding my checks pay is 3 weeks behind. The work has been completed in a timely and professional manner and my boss has received payment from the cable company.
Can they withhold your check for work you did? No--the labor law is very clear that even if an employee does owe an employee money, such as for allegedly lost equipment, the employee must still be paid. If they will not pay you, you could file a complaint with the state department of labor or sue (such as in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se") for the money.
However, if they believe you did lose or fail to return equipment, they do have the the right to sue you for its value. To win their case and force you to pay, they'd need to prove in court, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that it is "more likely than not") that you did take, lose, fail to return, etc. the equipment.