Is it legal for employers to deduct missing inventory from wages for retail sales staff?

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Is it legal for employers to deduct missing inventory from wages for retail sales staff?

It says in the handbook that this is the normal procedure.

Asked on January 1, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Missouri

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the employees agree to the deduction, it is legal. It is not clear whether or not simply stating it in tehe employee handbook is sufficient to infer agreement: in some cases, such as where the policy is very clearly stated and employees sign a form indicating that they received and read the handbook, it probably is, but if there is no acknowledgment of receipt or the policy statement is at all ambiguous or unclear, it probably is not.

However, note that even if the employer cannot directly deduct the cost of the missing goods, they can ask the employee to pay; and they could certainly fire the employee (since unless he/she has an employment contract, he/she is an "employee at will" and may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever) for not repaying the value of lost merchandise. And if the employee still did not pay, if the employer believed they could prove it was the employee's fault, they could sue him or her; and if they believed the employee stole the merchandise, file a police report and/or press charges.


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