Am I responsible regarding a cash drawer shortage?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Am I responsible regarding a cash drawer shortage?

I work in a fast food restaurant where all of the employees use the same cash drawer, albeit with different numbers on the register. A notice went up the other day saying the drawer was short and then had a list of how much each person had to pay. Am I legally obligated to pay this? Everyone working uses the same drawer, how am I responsible or liable if there is no way to prove who had the shortage?

Asked on October 13, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) You would only have to pay if the employer sues you for the money and can prove in court (e.g. by security camera footage, or by the testimony of other people who can place you at the drawer when the cash disappeared, etc.) by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that it is more likely than not) that you were responsible for the shortage. Only a court, after a trial, can order you to pay if you do not want to.
2) That said, if your job is not protected or guaranteed by a written employment contract which would prevent you from being fired for this reason, your employer could terminate you if you won't pay. Without a written employment contract, you are an "employee at will' and an employee at will may be fired for any reason--including that an employee will not pay his/her share of a cash drawer shortage. Because an employee at will has no rights to his/her job, the employer does not need proof or evidence--it's enough that the employer wants to terminate them. So the employer could terminate you for not paying.

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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