Can an employer deduct for accidental damage to company property?

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Can an employer deduct for accidental damage to company property?

I worked for an offshore boat company for about 2 years. I bent a wheel on the #1 engine and was fired for that. In my defense it was the only thing that ever happened in the time that I worked there; it is a common thing to bend a wheel. They sent me $97 instead of my 10 days of pay, which should have been $2700.

Asked on August 21, 2013 under Employment Labor Law, Alabama

Answers:

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

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Typically, an employer cannot deduct money from an employee's paycheck; the only time it can deduct money from an employee's wages is if the money is: (1) for income taxes, social security or the like, or (2) used to pay premiums for health insurance, union dues, or a retirement plan (or another payment that the employee authorized).

Additionally, an employer cannot deduct money from an employee's paycheck if, by accident or simple negligence, they lose company money, lose comany property or break the company property. If you just make a mistake and the company loses money, your employer cannot collect that money from you. These types of losses are part of the employer’s cost of doing business and your employer has to cover the costs. Only gross negligence or willfull dishonesty permits an employer to so deduct from an employee's paycheck.

Therefore, based on the limited facts presented, you appear to be owed the missing wages and may sue in small claims court to get what is owed you. That having been said, the law regarding this type of deduction varies from state-to-state. So you may want to consult directly with an employment law attorney or contact your state's department of labor for more information as to your speciic situation.


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