Can an employer force you to pay back money for a safe shortage?

I am a shift leader at a fast food restaurant. Recently, a lot of money has gone missing from our safe. Instead of trying to find out who the guilty party is, my boss is ordering all of the shift leaders, including me, to pay back 100 each in order to bring the safe total back up to what it should be. We were even required to sign our names on a handwritten piece of paper, stating that we would. If we refused, they would bring the police into it. I find this decision to be completely out of line. Is this even legal?

Asked on June 19, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina

Answers:

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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Typically, an employee can be held liable for such a shortage, unless this action is prohibited under the terms of a union agreement, employment contract or state law (you can check with your state's department of labor). That having been said, if an worker can legally be held liable for such a shortage, an employer cannot deduct the amount of the shortgae from the employee's paycheck, at least not without their consent. As for being forced to sign the paper in question, that would be cohersion so you cannot legally be held to such a signing. That having been said, in an "at will" employment relationship, you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all. Accordingly, you could dispute the circumstances under which you were forced to sign the paper but you could lose your job for doing so.


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