Can my employer make me pay back lost money?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer make me pay back lost money?

I work at a gas station and we frequently do cash drops to make our draws low. When I dropped $500 it didn’t go into the safe but into the trash when I turned around. The security camera caught it all on tape as well My contract I signed when I started does not specifically state that I have to pay back any shortages, just that I can be terminated. Can he make me pay it all back since my contract does not state that?

Asked on October 20, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

He can't simply take the money from your paychecks--employers cannot debit or take money out of employee pay without employee consent, unless otherwise required by law (e.g. court-ordered wage garnishment). 
But a person, including an employee, who carelessly or negligently (like dropping money into the trash) costs another money is liable or responsible for the loss. You would not have to pay unless the employer sues you, since unless he sues and win, there will be no court order or judgment for payment; but based on what you write, if the employer were to sue you for the money, it would win with the video evidence. If you think they will sue, you may elect to try to work out a payment agreement instead.
And, of course, they can terminate you for this.

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