If you quit or are fired from your job and still have property that belongs to your employer, it is a good idea to return it. In some circumstances, you may end up paying for that property. Depending on your position, job function, and the employer’s industry, the items that you should return may differ. Additionally, your employment contract may provide guidance on what must be returned. Here are some items that commonly belong to the employer:

  • Key FOBs
  • Identification badges
  • Parking permits
  • Equipment used to perform your job, including computers, machinery, and other electronic devices
  • Documents or other work product, particularly anything confidential in nature
  • Products or prototypes the company produces

Can My Employer Deduct the Value of Items from My Final Check?

If you quit or are fired from your job and still have property that belongs to your employer, it is a good idea to return it. In some circumstances, you may end up paying for that property.

Federal law allows your employer to make paycheck deductions for any unreturned property. The only requirement is that these deductions do not reduce your pay below the federal minimum wage.

In addition, federal law does not require employers to give employees their final paycheck immediately. This can allow your employer to withhold your final paycheck until you return their property.

However, either making a paycheck deduction or withholding your final paycheck may violate the laws of the state where you live. Many states have laws restricting or prohibiting paycheck deductions. Also, most states specify when your final paycheck is due by.  A list of these requirements can be found on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website.

Bear in mind that even if your state prohibits paycheck deductions, your employer is still entitled to its property. If you do not return that property promptly, you can be sued. 

Should I Consult a Lawyer?

If your employer has withheld an amount from your final paycheck for property you kept, an employment attorney may be able to help. The laws in your state might prohibit a withholding, or if you have not kept any property, you might have a wrongful termination claim. An employment lawyer can help you evaluate the circumstances of your termination.