If the screen on my work IPhone broke when I dropped it accidentally during use on the job, do I have to pay for a replacement screen?

The case it was in was flimsy, and my job says that I have to pay to replace the screen. I feel that that I wasn’t acting negligently and am wondering if this would be considered negligence? They are saying that if I don’t pay, they will withhold the money from my paycheck. Is that legal?

Asked on December 2, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California


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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes you can be made to pay for the case, regardless of negligence. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit (this includes replacing damaged equipment). For their part, an employee can comply and do as their employer requests, refuse and risk termination, or quit. Unfortunately those are about the only choices.
As for making a deduction from your paycheck, that can only be done it you agree to it and in writing (you may have done so without knowing in your hiring papers). If you did not give your express written consent, then your employer may not make such a deducton. However, they could sue you for it.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.