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vacation pay withheld for damaged laptop Illinois

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  • vacation pay withheld for damaged laptop Illinois

    Hi - I recently quit my job (without providing two weeks' notice) and returned my company issued laptop with some damage to it. This employer is currently withholding my vacation pay saying that they have to assess the value of the damages and are going to deduct it from my final vacation pay.

    A few questions
    1) are they legally allowed to withhold pay based on damages? I saw in the Illinois FAQ that they can't for uniform, pager, etc but not sure if it applies across all company owned goods.

    2) if the laptop is under warranty (and if I had returned it while still employed they would have easily given me a new one) do I still have to pay damages?

    3) They have withheld my pay for 3 pay periods already, should I file a claim (does that really help) or continue to work with my HR representative?


  • #2
    I'd just file the claim with the state DOL and let them make the decision. You have nothing to lose at this point.
    I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


    • #3
      Is it the same with last check???

      I see the problem with the company withholding vacation pay for a damaged computer, but would withholding the last paycheck for a supposed stolen item fall under the same heading??


      • #4
        Withholding pay for hours already worked is not legal no matter how you slice it.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


        • #5
          question on withholding pay

          You stated that "withholding pay is not legal any way you slice it". Can you share any IL law that would state that or provide additional information? I was told by my co's CEO that they will be holding my last pay check until they receive my laptop back. I didn't think it was legal to keep my entire check for this. They have not paid me for my accrued vacation time nor my Q3 bonus and state that the company doesn't have enough money to honor these obligations even though I have an emp contract that they signed.


          • #6
            Federal law says that you have to be paid for all the time you actually worked. There are no provisions in Federal law or in the law of any state except South Dakota to withhold pay pending the return of company property.

            That does not mean that you are legally justified in holding the laptop - keeping property that you do not own is called stealing. You're better off taking the moral high ground and returning all of their property. You have legal recourse if they fail to pay what is owed; you do not have legal justification to hold their property hostage.
            The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


            • #7
              clarification on federal law

              Thanks for your clarification. I do feel the "high road" calling me to do the right thing by the company whether they do the right thing by me or not. To further clarify, when you say they have to pay me for hours worked, does this apply to salaried exempt work (just want to make sure it's not just protecton for hourly) and would the bonus I earned in Q3 (that should have been paid out in Oct. but I agreed to except in Jan. due to the financial constraints of the company) also be required to be paid on my last check Jan. 31st as well or is it just regular wages?

              Additionally, if I am laid off, do they have a certain amount of time to pay me these earned wages or can they do so on their regular payroll schedule?

              thanks again!


              • #8
                Wage protections apply to everyone, not just hourly employees. However, you are only entitled to be paid for the time actually worked, not for the full week. There are a few exceptions to the law that says exempt employees have to be paid for the full week if they do any work in the week at all, and the first and last week of employment is one of them. So if you only worked two days in the last week of employment, they only have to pay you for the two days,not a full five day work week, but they cannot withhold payment for those two days.

                Whether you would be owned the bonus under the law would depend on the terms of the bonus agreement.

                There is no state (not even California) where an employee who quits without notice is due their final pay immediately. Of the three states you referenced in your initial post, Illinois law for employees who quit says no later than the next regular payday, Missouri has no provision as to when the final paycheck for employees who quit must be released, and Texas law says regular payday in those circumstances.
                The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


                • #9
                  more info

                  I should have added...I have already been paid for my last week of work (I rec'd that on Jan. 15th) so my final paycheck would be simply to catch me up for the first two paychecks I rec'd that were "half pay" as the company's policy is to pay in arrears.

                  For the bonus pay, I have an emp contract which stipulates that they pay quarterly bonuses on the first pay check on the month after the quarter closes so my Q3 bonus should have been paid on Oct. 15th. I agreed to accept this payment in Jan. due to the financials of the company not yet being profitable. The company is now stating they will not uphold my emp contract nor pay me the agreed upon severance (outlined in the emp contract) because they can no longer fund the company and they feel a bonus is not a part of the wages they intend to pay me. To me, my Q3 bonus is wages I earned and I except it to be paid on this final paycheck in Jan. Nothing in the bonus plan stipulates that I would not receive bonus pay if the company lays me off or decides to close it's doors.

                  At this point, I feel it's a waiting game...I have not rec'd any separation agreement from them or any release, etc to end the relationship and they are not returning my calls nor emails. I am having to wait until Wed. to see if they pay me the money for my salary paid in arrears although they stated they were going to hold any final paycheck until they receive the company laptop. At least now based upon your feedback I understand that it is illegal for them to withhold wages that are due me (and I'm assuming my bonus pay is part of that since nothing on the bonus policy stipulates otherwise). I anticipate having to hire legal counsel to handle this moving forward.

                  Thanks again for all your help and insight.


                  • #10
                    Have you considered simply taking them at their word and returning the laptop (since, as already indicated, you don't have a legal justification for keeping it)? SOMEONE has to break this standoff you (both of you, not just you) are creating.
                    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


                    • #11

                      It does look like a "standoff" in rereading this but the laptop really isn't the point of contention. They never said, "we'll pay you the $90k we owe you once you return the $1k laptop". I had offered to keep the laptop since they are cash-strapped and unable to pay me what they agreed to in the emp contract. They are just not returning my calls now and in their last communication with me over two weeks ago they said that they would issue my last check on Jan. 31st, after the laptop is received so I wanted to check on the legality of that (holding a paycheck that is substantially larger than the value of any co property I have). One of my calls was to ask them how they wanted the laptop shipped and to what location so I have the added worry that they are not answering these questions in the hopes that I won't send the laptop back before the 31st and they will believe they then won't have to pay me my last paycheck. I have actually still been fielding customer inquiries and forwarding client and vendor emails, etc. so I had a business reason to still have the laptop. I don't have anything from the company that even shows how they are classifying their "hibernation" of the I laid off? terminated? It's just a confusing situation. I actually am taking the laptop to FedEx today just to have that off my plate but, again, I don't think that will spur any action on their end unfortunately.