I signed an employment contract back in September 2014, after signing it my employer explained that we were not allowed to have copies of our own but we could take a look at it whenever under supervision. June 2014 I have requested one via email and they have refused to give me a copy but say I owe them money for breaking the contract. Is this legal for them to deny me a copy? This is in the state of Texas.

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    You signed the contract in future "September 2014" ? – user2711965 Jun 19 '14 at 20:12
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    That sounds unbelievably fishy. Were you in unsupervised custody of an unsigned copy at any time before you signed it? – Blrfl Jun 19 '14 at 20:20
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    I'm a bit skeptical that this is within the bounds of workplace.SE, as it seems to be a legal question. – NotVonKaiser Jun 19 '14 at 20:30
  • This is a legal advice question so it is off topic. However what I would do is tell them that I do not remember signing any contract that would have bound you to pay them anything. But that if they can provide you with a copy of the signed contract, that you would be happy to comply with the terms of a properly rendered and signed contract. Then consider getting the advice of a lawyer. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Jun 20 '14 at 14:16
  • Why did you sign a contract without retaining a copy? – user145 Jun 21 '14 at 21:29

I am not a lawyer nor have any specific knowledge of Texas employment laws, but a reference to this newsletter indicates that they are not required by any law (in Texas) to provide you with or even allow you to view the contract again as part of your personnel file. The relevant section is the first Q/A in the "Mailbag" section of the article:

The short answer is no, not if her job was located in Texas and if you’re a private (not government) employer. Under Texas law, personnel files are employers’ property and employees have no legal right to either see them or copy them. That is not true in a number of other states, or if the employer is a governmental employer.

Given that this is a Q/A rather than a legal document, it would still behoove you to retain legal counsel. However, if they intend to collect any debt from you or pursue any action against you, they will have to provide basis for it and evidence to that fact which will mean supplying a copy of the contract in question.

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    Good lord how can a contract be valid if both sides don't have a copy! – Pepone Jun 19 '14 at 21:09
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    @Pepone: The contract is always valid regardless of who has the copy, but it can't be enforced unless the copy is produced. Enforcement will require the employer to produce their copy, however, without a corroborating copy by the employee, there's no independent party to verify the legitimacy of any clause that may have been added after the fact. – Joel Etherton Jun 19 '14 at 21:13

I am not a lawyer, but my wife is a paralegal, and I thus know some of the mechanics of the courts.

This is not legal advice, and I do encourage you to engage a lawyer.

If you told them that you did not believe you owed them money, and that they should take you to court to collect it, or if you took them to court over unpaid wages, the company would have to produce that contract to the court as part of their case. Your attorney (and thus you) are provided a copy of all filings.

However, anyone who won't give you a copy of your contract is not someone you want to do business with. Run. Run and don't look back.

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