If I work in a restaurant and had a customer leave without paying the bill, can my employer make me pay that bill?

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If I work in a restaurant and had a customer leave without paying the bill, can my employer make me pay that bill?

I want to know if this is legally my responsibility?

Asked on December 4, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Such a "dine and dash" policy is most likely illegal. In the majority of states it is not legal for an employer to deduct from the employee's salary an amount owed by a customer who has skipped out on a check. Minimum wage and like labor laws ensure full pay for hours worked; an employer illegally deducting money from an employee's wages faces severe penalties.

So, as a general rule you, cannot be charged for a walk-out. That is unless you specifically agree to be (typically that consent must be in writing) or the terms of an employment contract or union agreement allow for this. However, you could be terminated for not doing so. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that you can choose to work for an employer, or not. In turn, your employer can hire or fire you for any reason or no at all. Accordingly, while you legally have the right to not make up for a walk-out, you could lose your job over it. 


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