Is it legal for my employer to deduct wages or withhold my paycheck?

UPDATED: May 30, 2012

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Is it legal for my employer to deduct wages or withhold my paycheck?

I recently quit my job. The previous week to that, my til was $40 short due to a declined credit card. I have 1 last check coming and they said that they will not let me have it unless I cash my check there, allowing them to take the $40 that I “owe” them. I know there aren’t any laws to govern this but is there anything I can do? I’m thinking about just getting my hands on the check and running for it.

Asked on May 30, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, an employer can only deduct for such shortages if exisiting company policy allows for this (or the terms of a union agreement or employment contract). Otherwise, no deductions can be made from an employee's paycheck without their permission.

As for withholding a paycheck based on a shortage this too is a legal violation. If an employer has the right to be compensated for a shortfall of this type, it must pay an employee their paycheck and, in turn, have the employee then pay the amount in question back over to them. If the employee refuses to pay then the employer can seek its remedy at law (i.e. sue for the money).

Bottom line, if your paycheck is being illegally withheld, you need to file a complaint with your state's department of labor. Do not do anything that will get you in trouble with the law. Frankly, $40 just isn't worth it, no matter how in the right you may be.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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