Brooklyn, NY asked in Employment Law and Business Law for New York

Q: Can a business withold an employee's earnings?

Accounting said they paid double overtime by accident and that they need retribution. They are withholding my paycheck until i sign a form and say they can take it out of future paychecks.

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2 Lawyer Answers

V. Jonas Urba

  • Tarrytown, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: I think you meant to write "restitution." If you pay anyone more than they are entitled to they will need to pay you back. You accidentally hand the McDonalds clerk a 50 instead of a 20 but only get change for a 20 they do not get to keep the excess unless they honestly did not see that you handed them a 50 (which is highly unlikely). Probably theft.

Same goes if you provide services to someone who knows you are providing services to them and they acknowledge that you are providing services to them while you are providing those services to them, knowing that you expect payment, you will be entitled to recover the reasonable value of the services you provided, which the receiver knew you were providing, but remained silent while you provided such services, regardless of whether you provided those services by accident.

Charles Joseph

  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Your employer is not allowed to make deductions from your paycheck unless it is required by law, such as income taxes or Social Security taxes, or it is for your benefit, such as health insurance, pension contributions, or discounted parking passes. Otherwise, your employer must have your agreement in writing before taking deductions from your wages.

Your employer cannot legally withhold your paycheck until you give them permission to make the deductions. However, if you refuse, your employer would be within its rights to terminate


You can read more about the wage-hour laws that protect employees at

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