Can an employer charge you if you accidentally broke something?

My girlfriend broke a machine at work accidentally; she knocked it off the bench with a hose.

Asked on October 24, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Absent an employment or union agreement to the contrary, typically an employee can be held responsible for losses that are either intentionally or negligently caused (you can check for specific state law online as some states prohibit charges for accidental breakage). That having been said, a worker's paycheck cannot be automatically deducted for the cost of such damage without their prior written consent. Therefore, if your girlfriend's boss wants to get the money for the broken machine, they must work out payment arrangments with her.  

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