Can a salaried employee be forced to pay hourly employees from their own pocket?

I recently complained to my manager about paying for employee incentives out of my pocket. I also advised him that same week that my arm was really hurting me and I may need to seek a short leave and get it evaluated. He voiced concerns about me leaving and I left it alone. Within a few days of these instances I was fired. I was accused of cheating and let go. I believe it was because of the fact I finally complained about being asked to pay money to the employees as well as concerns about a lawsuit for my carpel tunnel. Do you think I have a case? I was a top employee for 8 years

Asked on November 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Kansas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

It would be worthwhile to consult  with an employment law attorney--you *may* have one or more causes of action:

1) Regarding the arm: it is illegal to retaliate against an employee for using or stating he or she will use FMLA leave (assuming your company is large enough--at least 50 employees within a 75-mile radius--to be covered by that law). It's also illegal to retaliate against someone who is or may be filing for worker's compensation, such as for an employment-related injury (if that's the cause of  your carpel tunnel syndrome). Therefore, there are  two possible bases for a claim here.

1a) If you suffered the carpal tunnel at work, you may be eligible for worker's compensation, as implied above, if you haven't applied it.

2) Your employer cannot unilterally take money out of your pay to compensate other employees. However, if you agreed to pay certain incentives out of  your pocket, it is possible that it would be legal to do so. (Essentially, you would have agreed to a compensation structure that  includes you paying certain expenses.) Whether you have a claim on this basis will depend on the facts, what if anything you agreed to, etc.


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