Can My Employer Charge Me For Broken or Lost Equipment?

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Sometimes in the course of your job, a mistake can be made.  You may break or lose a piece of equipment, damage some merchandise, or have your cash drawer come up short.  Can your employer charge you for these losses?

Unfortunately, under federal law your employer is allowed to deduct these losses from your paycheck.  The only limitation is that these deductions cannot drop your pay below the federal minimum wage.  Therefore, if you only earn minimum wage, your employer cannot charge you for any losses.

It is also a good idea to check your state’s employment law.  Many states offer greater protections for employees than the federal law.  For example, many states require employers to get the employees’ written consent before they can make a paycheck deduction.  California considers lost and damaged equipment to be an ordinary cost of doing business, and will only allow a paycheck deduction if the employee was negligent or acting on purpose.

If you are unsure whether your employer’s actions are legal, you should consider meeting with a lawyer.  An experienced employment law attorney can tell you if your rights are being violated.

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Last Modified: 06-07-2012 04:00 PM PDT

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