Can my employer deduct money for losses?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer deduct money for losses?

I work as a driver for a heating oil company. I made a wrong delivery to a residence that didn’t ask for heating oil. Our office called and ask if they would still pay for the oil, and the customer did not agree and said it isn’t their problem. The company then deducted the cost of the oil from my paycheck. I never make mistakes and I feel the company

needs to take a loss for the heating oil. That’s what companies they look at their own losses.

Asked on November 3, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Why should the company take a loss for your error? The law says that if someone negligently, or carelessly, costs another money--such as by delivering to the wrong home--that person is liable, or financially resonsible, for the loss they caused: therefore, your company can recovery this money from you.
They are recovering the money the wrong way, unless you agree to let them do this: the law does not let an employer take money from an employee's paycheck, even if the employee does owe them money, as you evidently do, unless the employee consents or agrees to the deduction. If they do take money from your check without your permission, you could file a complaint with the department of labor and/or sue the employer for the money.
Of course, what they *can* legally do is:
1) They could sue you for the money, and if they do, will almost certainly win;
2) They could fire you "for cause" for having negligently cost them money and then refusing to reimburse them--and if they do so, you will not be eligible for unemploymet benefits.
It may be best to allow them to have the money from your paycheck, rather than forcing them to sue you and/or being fired.

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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