Can a company ask an employee to pay excess on damage done by himself as well as other employees?

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Can a company ask an employee to pay excess on damage done by himself as well as other employees?

My partner accidently damaged his work car. There was already previous damage from other employees and vandalism. Now his company is demanding he pay the excess of $2000. Can they do this?

Asked on May 21, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

When an employee accidentally or deliberately damages company property, the company is entitled to seek reimbursement or repayment; they are not obligated to absorb the cost themselves.

However, the company has no ability to force and employee to pay other than by suing him or her and proving the case in court; that is, they have no right to, for example, deduct the alleged cost from his or her paycheck. Instead to recover money, they would need to sue the employee and prove both 1) that he or she caused the damage, either negligently (carelessly) or deliberatly; and also 2) the extent of the damage caused by THAT employee. So your partner, if sued, would only be liable for that amount of damage which the employer can prove that he caused.

However, bear in mind that if an employee does not have an employment contract, he or she is an employee at will; an employee at will may be terminated at any time, for any reason, including that the company believes he has cost it money.


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