Can my employer take money out of my paycheck for something I tore up on the job site?

Asked on August 22, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

No, the employer may not simply withhold part of your paycheck without your consent, even if you do legitimately owe the employer money. Employee pay may only be withheld 1 if the employee consents to it, such as withholding to pay for health insurance or 2 as required by law, such as tax withholding or court-ordered wage garnishment. If pay was illegally withheld, you could sue the employer to get it back--that's how you recover money owed you by suing e.g. in small claims court.
However, if you did negligently carelessly or intentionally "tear up" something on the job site which belonged to the employer or for which the employer will have to pay, then you are liable, or responsible to pay for, that thing. If you sue the employer to get your pay back but you do reasonably owe them money for what you did, expect they will counterclaim against you and you many come out not actually getting anything, since whatever you get from them will be offset from what they can get from you for the damage you did.


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