Did my employer illegally deduct wages from my salary?

Wage theft is a common problem for many workers in California. In some instances, they are completely unaware of their rights when it comes to what their employer can and cannot do.

A way in which they might lose their rightful wages might not include the employer simply not paying them what they are owed. It can include deducting wages illegally. If this is happening, employees need to know what steps are available to them.

Recognizing illegal deductions

There are times when an employer can deduct wages from an employee’s pay. However, some might take advantage of employees and commit illegal acts in withholding pay. There are many ways an employee will illegally deduct wages.

For tipped workers, employers could claim that their workers are not entitled to it. The employer cannot do this unless there is a policy in place that employees who provide table service are expected to pool or share their tips.

Some employers require employees to have photographs taken of them. Employees are not expected to pay for this. When there is a bond for an employee or a prospective employee, the employer must pay it. Many jobs require employees to wear a uniform. If this is the case, the employer pays for it.

Business expenses that an employee paid for out of pocket or losses that they suffered as part of their employment are to be covered by the employer. When employees are required to have a medical of physical examination, the employer cannot deduct or withhold wages for it whether they are seeking the job or are already employed.

There are other circumstances in which an employer might try to take money from an employee. For example, if items in a retail store are broken or equipment in any employment situation is damaged, no deductions can be taken. If there is a cash shortage, it is somewhat different as wages cannot be deducted, but the employee can face other sanctions such as termination. The employer can file a legal claim to recoup that shortfall.

Employees should stand up for their rights

The employee can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Employment to recover their pay. If the employer commits any other acts such as threats, retaliation or discrimination, this is a separate violation that can also be pursued. It is also beneficial to be fully protected and to have a full understanding of how to address wage and hour disputes.