Is it legal to withhold and take money out of a check?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Is it legal to withhold and take money out of a check?

I lost my keys to where I work. At first they were fine with it, gave me a second key and I contuined working as normal. Now, about a week later, my manger is telling me that they’re holding my check and taking whatever money out to replace the key and get a new lock on the door. I did not sign any documents to allow this. Mind you, the first day I started they gave me the key to the store Now finding out they could have put me on in between shifts where I would’ve never had the key in the first place. Something is sounding sketchy here.

Asked on August 27, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, legally, they may not simply take money from your paycheck: the law is very clear that employee pay may only be debited or withhold with either 1) employee consent or agreement; or 2) a court order (such as from a lawsuit or a divorce, for wage garnishment to pay a judgment or for alimony). Without consent or  a court order, even if they believe you owe them money, they can't take it of your pay; they'd have to sue you for the money and win. (Or they could simply terminate you, as punishment for costing them money, if they want and you don't have a written employment contract preventing them from doing so--without a contract, you would be an "employee at will" and could be terminated at any time, for any reason.)
If they do take money from you, you could sue them for it. They in turn have the right to sue you for the cost they claim you caused them, but would have to prove in court that you were negligent, or careless, in losing the keys, that the lose reasonably caused them to have to get a new lock, and the cost of that lock and new key.

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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