Can I legally deduct wages/withhold pay

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Can I legally deduct wages/withhold pay

I am a small business owner dealing with automotive work. I have an employee who
has been working on a customers vehicle for almost 2 weeks. He has been welding
and doing the body work to prepare for painting and completion. I found that he
did not measure and the entire vehicle body is off by an inch on one side of the
vehicle. I will need to redo the entire project which means the 84 hours of
labor will need to be redone and of course I can not charge the customer double.
Can I deduct any or all of the lost labor wages from their final checks?

Asked on April 17, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, federal law (e.g. the Fair Labor Standards Act) forbids deducting or withholding from employee pay without employee consent, as does general principals of contract law (there was an agreement to pay the employee for working, whether that was a written or oral agreement; unless that agrerement specifically allowed for deductions in this case, you have to pay for the time spent working). If you want to recover the money from the employee, you would have to sue him (e.g. in small claims court) and prove that he was careless and the amount his carelessness cost you.


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