Is it legal for my boss to keep money out of my pay to cover loss from customer theft and damage to his store?

My boss has a kiosk that sells nothing but Christmas ornaments. I personalize them for the customer. My boss is telling me that he is going to take money from my paycheck to cover customer theft. He says there is over $700 in merchandise that has been stolen, which I find hard to believe and that he is going to take money from the pay of all the employees. Two of them have quit already. He told me that he has done this before and he won the case because he can prove the theft is our fault. There is no way it is our fault when people just walk past and take one.

Asked on December 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In some states such automatic deductions are legal. However, in others (and as a better course of action) such deductions are only allowable if an employee gives express consent or federal/state law mandates that money be withheld from a paycheck (e.g. back taxes; delinquent child/spousal support payments). However, this does not mean that an employee can't be held liable for such losses, just that their paycheck can't be shorted because of them. The fact is that you owe this money. And, in most employment situations, an employee can be terminated for any reason or no reason at all. So if you don't work out a repayment arrangement with your employer, you could find yourself without a job.

Note:  All of the above presumes that there is no employment/union contract to the contrary or existing company policy does not prohibit this deduction or some form of actionable discrimination is not a factor in your treatment.


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