The short answer is "No."
Consider this scenario: You are working at a waitress at local restaurant. You are carrying a tray full of food out of the kitchen to a four top you are serving. As you go to leave the kitchen, another waiter cuts you off and your tray falls to the kitchen floor smashing all the plates. Your employer deducts the costs of the plates from your paycheck. On the same night, while you are picking up desserts in the kitchen, three of your customers "chew and screw" without paying their bill. Your employer deducts the cost of the unpaid check from your paycheck.
Can your employer unilaterally make deductions to your pay for damage or losses it claims you made at work? The good news is that Massachusetts employers cannot just deduct losses from employee wages. There are very limited deductions that a Massachusetts employer can make from your paycheck, such as health insurance, FICA, union dues and other legal and authorized deductions. Your employer can dock your paycheck for a loan or advance with your written permission, but any amount of money owed for accidents, damages or any kind of theft must be established by a court.
If this was not the rule, employers would be back-charging employees for all sorts of damages that their employer's claimed they caused at work. If an employer seeks to make a deduction from your pay it has to first resort to the court process, or potentially arbitration, or another process if outlined in your an employment agreement, where you have the right to challenge your employer's claimed deduction. Your employer alone does not have the right to establish the amount of damages or even establish that you are at fault for such damages. The employee must be allowed a fair shot at accessing a due process with an independent decision maker before such a decision is made because naturally, your employer is not an impartial party to assigning blame. Also, none of the deductions can bring your hourly rate of pay below minimum wage.
If you are being charged money for something that happened at work, then you should consult with Attorney Phillips at Phillips Garcia Law today. Leave a message in the contact box below, or call us at 508.998.0800 to discuss your situation. Each situation is different and you need to speak to an experienced employee rights claim lawyer. There is a statute of limitations on payroll problems so reach out ASAP! We do not collect any upfront fees from our clients, and we only get paid if and when we win your case. Attorney Phillips has built his career on standing up for people who deserve to be heard - and your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you for making a wage claim, so don't be afraid to give reach out!