Can the owner of a trucking company force a driver to pay half the repair bill and deduct money from their paycheck because his truck broke down?

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Can the owner of a trucking company force a driver to pay half the repair bill and deduct money from their paycheck because his truck broke down?

I am a truck driver currently working for an OTR company in the midwest. A few weeks ago up my clutch an transmission went out. After I got it down to the shop my employer got my clutch an transmission fixed. However, the owner told me that he was going to take $75 out of my paycheck every week and that I had to pay half because of the clutch and transmission going out. The owner said it was my fault. Can they legally do this? And if this is illegal. what actions can I take?

Asked on June 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) An employer may not take money from an employee's paycheck without either the employee's consent (agreement) or accept as required by law (such as FICA; or court-ordered wage garnishment).

2) An employee does not have to pay for repairs unless either a) there was an employment contract in which the employee agreed to pay these costs; or b) the employer can show that the damage was in fact due to the employee's fault--that is, his or her negligence (carelessness) or deliberate wrongful act. If the employee disagrees and doesn't want to pay, the employer could fire him or her, or sue him or her (in which case the employer would have to prove fault to win the case), but still can't simply take the money out of pay.

3) If the employer takes or withholds money unlawfully, you could sue him or her to get the money back, including possibly in small claims court. That could expose you to adverse consequences, so it's not clearr that this is always the right thing to do.


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