Docking pay for missing money

Can an employer make everyone pitch in money to cover a deposit that came up
short? Even on a day when I didn’t work or have anything to do with the deposit?
Can I be fired if I refuse to pay?

Asked on June 27, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, there is no rule against charging an employee to make up for a shortage (although some states only allow it in cases of intentional misconduct or gross negligence). 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. That having been said, an employer must get the employee's written consent before they can make this type of deduction from the employee's paycheck (unless there has been illegal or gross misconduct). If an employee does not voluntarily pay back a shortage (or as in your case chip in for it), the the employeer must sue the employee in small claims court. The foregoing holds true regarding liability for shortages unless the worker has an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits them from being held liable or doing so constitutes some form of actionable discrimination. Finally, in an "at will" workplace, an employor can set the terms and conditions much as it sees fit. This includes when and why to fire an employee. In fact, an employee can be fired for not helping to make up a shortage, for any reason or for no reason at all (again subject to discrimination or contractual limitations). To be certain of your rights under specific state law, you can consult directly with an employment law attorney in your area.


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