Can my co-workers fight back and deny a charge-back to their paychecks?

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Can my co-workers fight back and deny a charge-back to their paychecks?

A few months ago couple of co-workers lost a work tool at a job site. After a few months past just recently when work is slow the owner decided that he wanted to charge the co-workers for the missing tool and take it out of their checks. He had them sign an agreement to authorize the deduction. The agreement stated only that it isthe responsibility of the employee to keep track of the tools they use and for their actions they are charged. No dates of incident, describing who was involved or or how it occurred included. They were never written up when it happened. No policies are posted just verbal. Legal?

Asked on June 23, 2011 under Business Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If the co-workers signed something agreeing to the deductions, it is probably legal. An employer may not unilaterally deduct the cost of missing tools from an employee's paycheck (though the employer may sue them for the cost of the tools; the employer may also fire them, unless they have a contract, including union agreement, protecting their employment and laying out the grounds and procedure for termination). However, employees may agree to deductions, so the fact that your coworkers signed an agreement authorizing it probably means that the deductions are permissible and the employer can take the money out of their paychecks, unfortunately. They could bring the agreement(s) to an employment law attorney for him/her to review, to confirm whether this is legal, but there is a good chance that it is.


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