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Unauthoried Payroll Deductions

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  • Unauthoried Payroll Deductions

    I have a friend that was working for a small apparal store in Alabama. They had a computer system that had access to the internet and point of sale system. The computer crashed one day at work when 2 different employees, not including this friend, were using it. The owner of the company deducted 150.00 from each employee to cover the cost of the computer to be fixed. He did not inform the employees of this until after someone saw the deduction and contacted the accounting manager. Is this legal???

  • #2
    In most cases I'd say no, but your state has unbelievably weak wage and hour laws. This is only an opinion (Patty will be able to provide the actual law) but based on what I know of your state's laws in this area I'd say there's at least a 35% chance that it's legal in your state. (Be glad you're not in Mississippi or Florida - if you were, my guess would be more like 85% chance that it's legal!)

    Hold on for Patty when she gets here - she's our payroll expert.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.


    • #3
      Did the computer crash because the employees were using it for personal reasons, or did it crash as a result of something else?

      Generally speaking, an employer cannot require an employee to foot the bill for operating expenses; however, if the computer crashed as a result of personal, non-business use, then I would say that the employer could probably get away with this in AL.


      • #4
        Unfortunately, I could not find any law prohibiting such a deduction. However, it wouldn't hurt to contact the state Dept. of Industrial Relations to inquire because, although it may not be legally prohibited, it is definitely a violation of public policy. Now whether the DIR will take a claim or not, I have no idea, but it can't hurt to take a shot.

        BTW, no matter why the system crashed, fixing it is a cost of doing business. Even if an employee doing personal stuff on it caused it to crash (which would be hard to prove), that's the chance an employer takes when they don't properly protect their systems. In my opinion, this deduction situation stinks.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.