Can an employer withhold money from an employee if they break a product or are short on a cash drawer?

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Can an employer withhold money from an employee if they break a product or are short on a cash drawer?

Asked on February 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Arkansas

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If it is an agreed term of employment that the employee would have to make up a cash draw shortage or pay for breakage, then an employer can make an employe cover such losses. Yet most states put strict limits on whether and how an employer is allowed to do this. Additionally, even if an employee can be held responsible, an employer simply can't make a deduction from an employee's paychck without their expess consent. Without such consent, the only legal way to get what is owed is to either make repayment arrangements with the employee or or sue them in court.
That having been said, if the employee does not cover shortages or breakage, then they can be fired. The fact is that in an "at will" workplace arrangment, an employee can be fired for this reason, any reason or no reason at all. So unless this action violates company policy, the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, or constitutes some form of actionable discrimination, the employee should work out a repayment plan or face discharge.
For further state specific information, you can contact a local employment law attorney or contact your state's department of labor.


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