If the screen on my work IPhone broke when I dropped it accidentally during use on the job, do I have to pay for a replacement screen?

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If the screen on my work IPhone broke when I dropped it accidentally during use on the job, do I have to pay for a replacement screen?

The case it was in was flimsy, and my job says that I have to pay to replace the screen. I feel that that I wasn’t acting negligently and am wondering if this would be considered negligence? They are saying that if I don’t pay, they will withhold the money from my paycheck. Is that legal?

Asked on December 2, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Yes you can be made to pay for the case, regardless of negligence. The fact is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will". This means that a company can set the terms and conditions of employment much as it sees fit (this includes replacing damaged equipment). For their part, an employee can comply and do as their employer requests, refuse and risk termination, or quit. Unfortunately those are about the only choices.
As for making a deduction from your paycheck, that can only be done it you agree to it and in writing (you may have done so without knowing in your hiring papers). If you did not give your express written consent, then your employer may not make such a deducton. However, they could sue you for it.


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