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Unauthorized deduction Massachusetts

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  • Unauthorized deduction Massachusetts

    Does an employer have the right to with hold monies from an employee's pay check with out the employee's written authorization?

  • #2
    Sometimes. This situation is very detail specific. The nature of the deduction helps determine the answer.
    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)


    • #3
      unauthorized deduction from pay check

      This is the story: My boyfriend works in road construction and one night he was out on the road and a tote of paint spilled off the truck and onto the road making a huge mess. Because of it being paint, the police, fire dept, hazordous waste was called in to make sure it wasn't a potental threat. It wasn't, however, the insurance comp was not going to cover the spill for his employer. My boyfriend was not driving the truck, however, he was the foreman on the job. He just recently got a letter in his pay check saying that his employer was going to start taking money out of his pay check to cover the tote of paint. There were 4 people on the job, however, the employer is only making 2 people pay the money back. My question can his employer start taking money out of his pay check without his authorization.


      • #4
        Not allowed to my knowledge. Contact the state Attorney General's office (which serves as the Dept. of Labor) to confirm.
        I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


        • #5
          In MA, the DOS issued an opinion letter in April 2003 adressing seven deduction requests and denied them all (MW-2003-003), including "breakages such as … damage to employer’s goods", IF they cause the wages to fall below minimum wage rates.

          But, there are also additional Federal guidelines on deductions from wages. These can be found at 29 CFR sections 778.304-778.307 (, is the section dealing with disciplinary deductions)

          Interestingly, there may be an unexpected benefit to your boyfriend – who I’ll assume is paid on a salary basis as an exempt employee. By making the disciplinary deduction, the company may have jeopardized the overtime exemption entirely.

          The DOL, in a March 10, 2006 opinion dealing with whether an employer could require exempt employees to work more than 40 hours per week, also dealt with the issue of deductions allowed by FLSA ( The general rule is that employers can’t suspend or dock exempt employee’s pay without undermining the "salary basis" part of the test for those employees.

          29 CFR 541.602(a) requires regular pay "which amount is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of the work performed."

          Sorry the analysis is so complicated. Hopefully the links I provided will help you.

          Bottom line, your boyfriend may now be entitled to overtime, because the employer didn’t respect the exemption.

          So, its probably worth your time to look into this a little deeper, there may be some interesting benefits. Talk to your attorney or the Atorney General about it.

          This post is by Philip Gordon, a Massachusetts employment attorney (

          This post is NOT legal advice. It is for general/educational information purposes only. You should not rely on this post if you are making decisions, and it does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post may be considered "advertising" under the MA professional rules for attorneys.


          • #6
            Thanks, Phil. I couldn't find anything on the AG's website. They DO make it complicated, don't they?
            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.


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