Can my employer require me to pay back money that was stolen via theft under my watch?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can my employer require me to pay back money that was stolen via theft under my watch?

I work at a bar that charges of cover fee for kids 18-20 on Tuesday evenings – 2 am. I was in charge of the money bag at the time but my attention was elsewhere when the theft occurred. Am I legally obligated to pay the employer back? I believe I am what’s known as an

Asked on January 17, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, South Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The employer cannot take the money out of your paycheck without your permission, agreement or consent: the law is clear on that. But what he can do is:
1) He can terminate/fire you if you won't repay the money: as an employee at will, you have no job protection and may be fired at any time for any reason, including the employer being upset that you won't pay back money stolen on your watch. (Or he could do anything "less than" firing: suspend you, demote you, cut hours or pay, etc.)
2) He could sue you for the money, though to win and get a court judgment requiring you to pay, he'd have to prove either a) you intentionally stole or helped someone steal it, or b) you were "unreasonably careless" or negligent in failing to keep a better eye on the money.

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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