Can employers legally take money from my pay without my permission?

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Can employers legally take money from my pay without my permission?

I am an auto tech and I made some repairs to a utility trailer. I packed the wheel bearings and 1 of the bearings got hot 400 miles down the road. The repairs to the trailer were said to be $1780.00. My employer is taking half out of my pay and I only made $70 on the job.

Asked on March 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:
1) Do you owe your employer the money? IF you were negligent or careless in how you did the work (i.e. you did not do it right) and that cost them money, then yes, you are liable for it: anyone who negligently or carelessly costs another money or damages their property is responsible for it. If you did nothing wrong, you do not owe them anything.
2) How can they get the money? They can't take it out of your pay unless you agree to let them do so (or they sue you and get a court order to garnish your wages): the law is very clear that employee wages may only be garnished or withheld with employee consent or a court order. 
They can sue you for the money--that is their option to collect. If they can prove you were at fault in some way, they can get a court order requiring you to pay.They could also terminate (fire) you for having cost them money without agreeing to repay it.


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