Can an employer make you pay for or be fired for stolen goods?

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Can an employer make you pay for or be fired for stolen goods?

My employer has found that transaction
payed with an app or key-in card are
not going through and that we are not
receiving money for these products. My
employer has never informed me that we
are not allowed to pay with apps or
key-in card numbers and employees other
than myself have been doing so as well.
I have also never signed any contract
stating I am responsible for stolen or
damaged goods. Is my employer allowed
to force me to reimburse him for lost
money or fire me? no other individuals
who have been taking app or key-in
cards that we have lost money on are
being forced to pay back or resign

Asked on October 12, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, New Mexico

Answers:

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

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Unless your employer could prove that you intentionlly or negligently caused the loss, it cannot hold you liable. Further, even if it could do so, your employer cannot just make a paycheck deduction, it would have to sue you in small claims court and be awarded a judgment. That having been said, unless you are afforded protection against dismissal under the circumstances via the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, you can be discharged for this. In fact, an employer can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit, which includes the right to dismiss a worker for any reason or no reason at all. This is known as "at will" employment.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

 1) If you don't have a written employment contract, you are an employee at will and may be terminated at any time, for any reason, whether fair or reasonable or not. So your employer may terminate you  for the payment problems and/or for refusing to reimburse for lost payments, regardless of what is being done with or about other employees.
2) The employer cannot recover the money from you (for example, cannot dock or debit your pay) if you refuse to pay unless he sues you (e.g. in small claims court) and proves in court, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that it is "more likely than not") that you were negligent, or unreasonably careless, in causing the losss.


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