Wednesday, April 4, 2007

"Yeah, But The $#!% Owes Me Money!"

I've heard this phrase from employers WAY too many times with respect to their employees or soon to be former employees. Let's see, the worker either broke something, "removed" something from the premises without permission, has yet to return the expensive set of tools that were borrowed two years ago for "only a couple of days," hasn't yet repaid that loan for a new truck, or has otherwise reduced the employer's net worth in some way. "Hey, Randy ... can't I just take it out of his paycheck?" In New York, the answer is an unequivocal "NO!"

New York Labor Law Section 193, et seq., generally prohibits an employer from making any deductions from an employee's wages except those required by law (e.g., payroll taxes, child support orders, wage garnishments, etc.) or certain deductions expressly authorized in writing by and for the benefit of the employee. Such authorized deductions are limited to payments for insurance premiums, pension or health and welfare benefits, contributions to charitable organizations, the purchase of U.S. savings bonds, union dues or assessments, and similar payments for the employee's benefit. Sorry, folks ... deducting money from employee wages to repay a loan or to recoup the value of stolen or damaged property is prohibited, even if the employee agrees to it in writing. And, here's the real kicker ... there are criminal penalties for violating the statute!

So what's an employer to do in these situations? Very little other than possibly pursuing whatever remedies may be available at law. Of course, when the next request for a loan is made, the employee could be directed to the nearest bank.

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