Can an employer make employees pay for cash register shortages?

My ex-employer made waitstaff pay for cash register shortages and ticket errors out of their own pocket without written consent.

Asked on October 28, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that as long as the employee still earns at least the minimum wage after such a deduction, there's no rule against charging an employee for a shortage. This is true so long as this has been existing company policy. If it is a new policy, the employee can only be charged for shortages after the new policy went into effect (i.e. not retroactively). However, some states require employers to get the employee's written consent before they can make this type of deduction from the employee's paycheck. And a few states only allow such deductions from an employee who assumes responsibility for the loss or unless the employer can show that the employee acted dishonestly or negligently.

So unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits an employee from being held liable for a cash draw shortage or this deduction constituted someform of actionable discrimination (i.e. one based on gender, religion, race, etc). You employers action was most probably legal. To be sure, consult directly with an employment law attorney in your area.

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