Is it illegal for an employer to take money from an employee for mistakes at work?

A Friend of mine accidentally backed a truck at work into a support pole for one of the warehouses. His employer is now taking money out of his check to cover the cost of the pole. Isn’t it illegal for an employer to take money from an employee for mistakes at work?

Asked on August 17, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

An employer may not simply deduct or withhold money from an employee's paychecks; paycheck deductions may only be made as required by law (e.g. FICA; child-support wage garnishment), or with employee consent or permission.

However, if an employee negligently or carelessly damages an employer's property--such as by backing a truck into a pole--the employer could certainly ask him to pay for the damage he caused; being employed does not give one the right to damage the employer's property. If the employee will not pay, the employer could fire him (if he does not have an employment contract whose terms prevent this) and/or could sue him for the money. Hence, it may be in your friend's interest to voluntarily repay.


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