Do I have to pay for damages that I cause at work?

I was asked to run a forklift and I ran into a garage door causing damage. I was never trained on a fork lift nor do I have a license to operate one. My employer new that I was not trained or licensed and now is making me pay out of my paychecks to pay for the insurance deduction is that legal? They are also calling it a merchandise purchase?

Asked on December 7, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

If you caused damaged to another's property (including an employer's) either negligently (carelessly) or intentionally, you may be liable, or have to pay, for the costs. Driving a forklift if you didn't know what you were doing is almost certainly negligent or careless, so you could be financially responsible. Your employer, however, is not allowed to simply take the money from your paycheck; instead, if they believe you owe them money for damages, but you do not pay voluntarily, they may sue you and try to prove in court that you owe the money.

Note that if you do not have an employment contract protecting your job in some way, your employer may terminate or fire  you for damaging their property.

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