Can a manager ask you to pay back a short register if they do not know who the shortage was caused by or if it was just a paperwork error?

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Can a manager ask you to pay back a short register if they do not know who the shortage was caused by or if it was just a paperwork error?

My husband’s boss is saying that since the register was approximately $150 short and the bosses cannot find a reason why. Now, everyone must pay it back.

Asked on June 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that as long as an employee still earns at least the minimum wage after such a deduction, there's no rule against charging the employee (or as in this case employees), for such a shortage. This is true so long as this has been existing company policy. If it is a new policy, the employee can only be charged for shortages after the new policy went into effect (i.e. not retroactively).

However, some states require employers to get the employee's written consent before they can make this type of deduction directly from an employee's paycheck. And a few states only allow these deductions if an employee assumes responsibility for the loss or unless the employer can show that the employee acted dishonestly or negligently.

So unless you have an employment contract or union agreement that prohibits you and/or your co-workers from being held liable for a cash draw shortage, or this deduction constituted some form of actionable discrimination (i.e. one based on gender, religion, race, etc), you employer's action is most probably legal. To be sure, contact your state's department of labor.


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