If I was an independent contractor, is company paying me allowed to deduct from my wages for equipment

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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If I was an independent contractor, is company paying me allowed to deduct from my wages for equipment

While working for a company doing independent
contracting I lost the iPad I was assigned work
on. I told them I would replace it and to tell
me the model and specifications.
Instead without notice they with Heald my pay
and now are asking for more money.
I was never given any chance to replace the
item and the item they are billing me for is an
upgrade from the original at almost double the
I am in Michigan.
Did they illegaly deducted from my pay?

Asked on March 29, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Yes, it is illegal: unless you had signed an agreement stating that you would pay for a new iPad (or whatever) if lost while in your care and that the money therefore could be deducted from your pay, they had no right to do this. They could sue you for the money, if they feel that they can show you were at fault (you would only have to pay if at fault; e.g. if you were careless with it); they could fire you for losing their property; but the can't simply withhold pay. Also, even if they sued you and won, they are only entitled to the value of what you lost (if you were at fault)--i.e. what that iPad was worth, given model, age, condition, etc.--and are not entitled to an upgrade.
You could sue them for the withheld pay. They would have a viable offset for the value of what you lost. E.g. say that the iPad you lost was then worth $400 and they have taken $1,000 out of your pay--you could potentially recover $600, since  you would sue for $1,000 but they would interpose a counterclaim or offset for $400.

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