Is it legal for your employer to deduct wages out of your paycheck for damaging a vehicle that you were not properly instructed how to use?

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Is it legal for your employer to deduct wages out of your paycheck for damaging a vehicle that you were not properly instructed how to use?

I work at a country club and roughly a month ago I was lent one of the faster utility carts to maximize efficiency throughout the work day. I work out on the golf course generally once a week and spend most my time in the club restaurant. I came in one day and the head maintenance guy informed me that I did roughly $800+ in damages to the cart by simply driving it in 4-wheel drive on pavement. I had no knowledge this could mess anything up and nobody informed me ahead of time. I was asked to cover $350 but others told me that’s illegal and I found it kind of shady the pay deductions were listed under loans.

Asked on September 27, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

There are two different issues here:

1) Can you be forced to pay for something of the employer which your broke? Yes--if you damaged the employer's property, whether deliberately or through negligence, they can seek compensation from you; if you don't pay voluntarily, you could be sued. If they sue you, you'll have the chance to try to show that you were not in fact careless and thus not at fault (e.g. that they never gave you proper instructions).

2) Can they take the money out of your paycheck? Not without your agreement--otherwise, if they think you owe money, they'd have to sue you.

And they can fire you for damaging their property as well--something to bear in mind.


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