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

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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

Answers:

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

Answered 9 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.


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