Is it legal for an employer to take $20 out of an employee’s paycheck to pay for a tool they use on the job but at the end of the year if the money has not been spent then the boss keeps it?

Are we within the law to ask for this money?

Asked on July 13, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

It is legal to make employees pay for tools they need for work. It is also legal to deduct money from a paycheck if the employee agrees to it. But if the employee agrees to pay or allow a deduction for a certain purpose (e.g. a tool), then if the money is not used for that purpose, it should be returned to the employee. However, there is no good way to make this happen if the employer will not voluntarily return the money: the employee would have to sue his employer for $20, which is not cost effective.

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