Can an employer dock a employee’s paycheck for forgetting to ship a box?

UPDATED: May 29, 2012

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Can an employer dock a employee’s paycheck for forgetting to ship a box?

If an employee forgets to send a package out to a customer, and then a few days later has to send it priority shipping; is the employer legally allowed to take the difference in the shipping costs from the employee’s paycheck?

Asked on May 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it can but only so long as there is an union agreement, employment contract or stated employment policy indicating that your employer can charge back errors of this kind. However, even if it can require repayment fora loss of this type, your employer simply can't deduct from your paycheck. The fact is that such deductions are subject to a number of limitations.  For example, you might need to make repayment by writing a check, etc. to your employer (as opposed to an automatic paycheck withholding).

Note: Without a prior agreement requiring repayment, an employer cannot force an employee to repay money for a loss. However, in an "at will" employment situation, an employer may terminate an employee for not making a repayment (an at-will employer can fire an employee for any reason or no reason at all).

Bottom line, you just may want to work out a repayment arrangement to keep the peace - and your job.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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