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Damaged customer vehicle - who pays? Nebraska

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  • Damaged customer vehicle - who pays? Nebraska

    My son works at a car dealer. A couple of days ago, while moving a customer's new vehicle, he scraped the side of the vehicle on the entrance to the wash bay. They're telling him they will charge him (my son) the cost of the repair, up to the insurance deductible. This doesn't sound right to me for a number of reasons...

    He has no control over what their insurance deductible is; it could be $1K or $5K.

    Since the repairs will be (and indeed have been) done in the dealer's own in house body shop, they could effectively say the repair cost whatever they want - including their usual profit margin on body work.

    When you hire college students for the summer to drive cars around your lot and in and out of buildings all day, you have to assume a certain amount of risk of accidental damage.

    So... is the employer allowed to charge the employee for accidental damage to a vehicle, incurred during the normal course of that employee's assigned work?

  • #2
    48-1230. An employer may deduct, withhold, or divert a portion of an employee's wages only when the employer is required to or may do so by state or federal law or by order of a court of competent jurisdiction or the employer has written agreement with the employee to deduct, withhold, or divert.
    http://www.dol.state.ne.us/legallaws...tion%20Act.pdf

    And, since this deduction would be the for benefit of the employer, federal law prohibits any deduction that would take the employee below minimum wage for any given workweek, as well as any deduction at all from overtime pay.
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    • #3
      Thanks, I had seen that particular passage before. So part of this I read to mean that, if he signed an agreement with the employer when he was hired agreeing to pay for damages, they can do it. I don't know if that is the case, and of course I doubt he will remember either, but we'll find out.

      The other part -- "only when the employer is required to or may do so by state or federal law" -- is the part I am not sure of; does anyone know if the employer is allowed to do so (by state or federal law) in a case like this?

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      • #4
        They aren't legally prohibited from doing so. Note that the law says "or" the employee authorizes...." The specific deduction must be authorized. A statement in an employee handbook stating that such a deduction may be made under these circumstances does not mean that the written authorization for THIS deduction is not required.

        Note the federal prohibitions I mentioned, though. Does he make very close to minimum wage? Does he work any overtime?
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        • #5
          OK, so here is what I understand so far:

          1.) The employer can make him pay for the repairs to the vehicle.
          2.) They cannot deduct it from his paycheck, unless he specifically authorizes them to do so (for each paycheck, I think).
          3.) They cannot deduct more than would reduce his effective pay to minimum wage or eat into overtime.
          4.) Payroll deduction aside, they can send him a bill for the damages and sue if he doesn't pay it.

          Have I got that right?

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          • #6
            1. Correct.
            2. Almost. A single authorization would be sufficient for this incident, even though the deductions could be over multiple paychecks.
            3. Correct.
            4. Correct.

            I don't know why some employers insist on doing this. Covering the deductible is a cost of doing business; accidents happen.

            Good luck to him.
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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            • #7
              Well, especially since they won't make an insurance claim anyway. The repair has already been done, by their in house body shop. Having done that kind of work before, I'd guess their actual cost (labor and materials) is probably no more than half what they're telling him it cost.

              I was an employer once (but I'm feeling much better now). When one of my employees screwed something up, it would never have occurred to me to make them pay for it. If it was gross negligence, they might get canned for it... but otherwise it's a cost of doing business. You have people doing things, you assume a certain amount of risk. But hey, that's just me. I don't sell cars, I guess that must take a different mindset.

              Thanks for the information!!

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