Is it legal for a company to deduct pay from every single employee because they found out one person is stealing?

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Is it legal for a company to deduct pay from every single employee because they found out one person is stealing?

I work at a restaurant and their has been money missing from the till randomly and so the owners have been deducting everyone’s paychecks to add up to the amount that was missing, is this lawful? I guarantee it was just one person and everyone is getting punished.

Asked on May 9, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, North Dakota

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, it is not even remotely legal: the law is clear that there are no deductions from employee pay, even if the employer believes they owe the employer money, without either employee consent/agreement to the deductions, or a legal order for the deductions (like court or IRS ordered wage garnishment). The employees could look to file a wage complaint with the department of labor or sue (e.g. in small claims court) for the money.
The employer could terminate employees over suspected theft, with no need to prove allegations (employment in this country is "employment at will"), or do anything less than termination, like cutting hours, reducing wages, suspending, etc. If they think they can prove who took the money, they could also sue that person(s) for it, and get it if they can prove their case in court. But they may not unilaterally withhold or deduct from wages.


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