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Employer Withholding Paycheck Until Stolen Equipment is Returned/Paid For

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#1
What is the name of your state? Arizona

After my personal laptop was stolen out of my car, my employer offered to purchase me a new one. She made it seems as if it was a gift but, the laptop was purchased with a company CC and accouted for under 'Office Equipment."

During a recent vacation, I left the laptop at a friends house while sightseeing. When I messaged him to retreive it, he stated that he did not have it and would not tell me what he did with it. I pleaded with him and showed up at his place to no avail. This took place on 10/16/18, hours before I was leaving. I was unable to file a police report. My vacation continued in another city. Neither the location of the theft nor my local police department would let me file a report online or over the phone.

I was able to file an in-person courtesy police report with my local police department on 11/04/18. I alerted the police department where the theft took place. They agreed to create a report as well. I provided my employer with the case, police report and laptop information. Before they knew about the theft, my employer stated through email that she would bring me my paycheck to our next meeting. I was terminated from employment on 11/05/18 during the meeting. My employer did not bring my paycheck and stated through email that they would not release it until the laptop is returned or paid for.

I asked my employer to file an insurance claim since the laptop is company property and they are covered for theft. They stated through email that a claim could not be filed because the police report was not created at the scene/date of the theft. I was told that the insurance company (Secura Insurance I think) will also not accept my statement alone which is what is contained the the police report (along with suspect and laptop information).

Concerns that I have in this situation -

I question the validity of their statements concerning insurance. Will insurance companies refuse to accept police reports not recorded at the scene/date of crime?

Under AZ wage law, employers are required to send final paychecks within 7 days of employment termination. However, employers can withhold wages if, 'There is a reasonable good faith dispute.. including the amount of any counterclaim or any claim of debt.' This paycheck exceeds the price of the laptop. Is she required to send me the difference between the laptop price and paycheck within 7 days?

The paycheck was issued 10/19/18 while I was still employed. I asked but, was unable to have it mailed because the staff was out of town. However, I did not work any additional hours before I was terminated. Can an employer withhold wages from a paycheck that has already been printed?

For a wage disputes, I was told AZ Wage and Hours that I could file a claim with them, file a police report or file a civil court case where I could receive up to 3Xs the check amount. If I do have a case, what is my best option?
 


#2
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The employer is not entitled to a unilateral deduction from wages for equipment unless you advance authorized same in writing .

For a large check it may make sense to consider a civil court case due to the 3 x feature ...but I suggest you review same with labor law counsel of your choice first. I don't know, the civil suit and wage claim may be mutually exclusive roads in AZ to take....check it carefully .

Whether or not the firms insurance covers it is not relevant to the wage claim and is not your business.
 
#4
It seems like you are willing to pay for the laptop - why not just ask them to take it out of your last check and send the balance?
OP appears to be dancing around agreeing to that but, let's see.

Is she required to send me the difference between the laptop price and paycheck within 7 days?
Call her up and offer to allow the price of the laptop to be deducted from your check. That should solve all your problems.

You don't have much leverage here. You can file a wage claim, you can sue, you can huff and puff and stamp your feet but the bottom line is that you are responsible for paying for the laptop and she can easily file her own police report saying you stole it. As an employer she will have quite a bit of credibility with the police.

I'm not saying she's right to withhold the paycheck, just saying that any victory you might have might be Pyrrhic (google it.)
 
#8
They can certainly be held responsible if they leave it in an insecure location negligently, which the OP obviously did.
I'm not sure if that is how I would describe it given this portion of the original post:

During a recent vacation, I left the laptop at a friends house while sightseeing. When I messaged him to retreive it, he stated that he did not have it and would not tell me what he did with it. I pleaded with him and showed up at his place to no avail. This took place on 10/16/18, hours before I was leaving. I was unable to file a police report. My vacation continued in another city. Neither the location of the theft nor my local police department would let me file a report online or over the phone.
She left it at a "friend's" house so that she wouldn't lose it. The "friend" decided to "rehome" it. The house was apparently not broken into.

I think our poster needs to redefine the word "friend", and her real gripe should be with her "friend". Since she is now unemployed, in part thanks to this "friend", she now has the time to consider if she has any possible legal action against her "friend". And, on the other hand, the employer deserves to be made whole, and reimbursed for the cost of the laptop.
 
#10
IMHO leaving with a "friend" that would then immediately steal it is negligent and he didn't even return to get it, he "messaged" for it.
Pink Panther "showed up at his place" too.

But yes, Pink Panther wouldn't be in this pickle if Pink Panther had 1) delayed his vacation to file a police report, and 2) begged and/or borrowed the money to replace the laptop and pleaded with the employer for forgiveness.

Frankly, I wouldn't be in the mood to continue my vacation in another city with this hanging over my head - I'd want to cut the vacation short.

I think Pink Panther has many misplaced priorities and gripes.
 
#13
Pink Panther "showed up at his place" too.

But yes, Pink Panther wouldn't be in this pickle if Pink Panther had 1) delayed his vacation to file a police report, and 2) begged and/or borrowed the money to replace the laptop and pleaded with the employer for forgiveness.

Frankly, I wouldn't be in the mood to continue my vacation in another city with this hanging over my head - I'd want to cut the vacation short.

I think Pink Panther has many misplaced priorities and gripes.
You really like begging and grovelling?

Perhaps the op would have been out thousands, airlines are kinda unforgiving these days.
 
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