Can a company take away earned pay for company policy violations?

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Can a company take away earned pay for company policy violations?

I work for a company as an independent contractor and have been told several times that if certain policies are not followed 100% of the time that I will lose pay for the infractions.  For example, hair is too long or forgetting to punch in.

Asked on November 19, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were an employee, the companies ability to dock pay would be substantially limited--though, of course, you could be fired at will for infractions. If you are truly an independent contractor, then if the agreement between you and the company provides for reductions in compensation for certain acts or omissions, that would be enforceable--it's a contract, after all, and the terms of any contract which are not illegal terms will generally be enforced.

The big question is: are you in fact an independent contractor? It sounds like you may not--independent contractors do not clock in. If you have  been misclassified as an independent contractor, either by mistake or deliberately, you may be due extra pay (such as overtime) and benefits (such as health, if the company provides that for its employees), potentially retroactively back to when the misclassification occured. Go to the Dept. of Labor website: you should be able to find some information about how to tell if you should actually be an employee, not an independent contractor.


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