What to do if my employer gave the ultimatum of “we deduct pay from your check or you must quit”?

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What to do if my employer gave the ultimatum of “we deduct pay from your check or you must quit”?

A honest mistake was made which made a customer unhappy (automotive repair). I was pulled into my boss’s office and given an ultimatum that I would either have to surrender pay for the time I was paid to service the vehicle (several weeks ago) or I would be forced to “quit”. I have 2 strikes already on my record with the company from months ago and I know if I refuse they will fire me and fight unemployment. Is this legal and is there anything I can do?

Asked on August 10, 2011 Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you don't have a contract, you are an employee at will. Your employer would have the right, therefore, to fire you for making a customer unhappy. The employer could also tell you that unless you willing to reimburse the company for the wages it paid you while you were making the customer unhappy, that it will fire you. If it fires you, it could claim it was "for cause"--creating customer dissatisfaction--and try to fight your unemployment claim, that it would be up to the unemployment office to decide (if you contest what the company says) if this was a "for cause" termination or not.

Short answer: a company can threaten to fire or actually fire an employee for making a customer unhappy, unless the employee comes up with something that in turn satisfies the company.


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