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Improper Deductions

San Francisco Employment Lawyers

California and federal law regulate the way employers deduct money from your wages and what rights you have during each workday.  California employment law and federal law each provide employees with various legal rights.  Our experienced employment law lawyers can help employees determine whether they have a legal right to recovery, when they believe an employer has treated them unfairly.

Lawful Payroll Deductions

Employers can only deduct from your wages for specific circumstances, such as:

  • California employers have the right to make certain deductions from an employee’s paycheck including:
  • Income taxes or garnishments
  • Insurance premiums and medical dues
  • Deductions authorized by a collective bargaining agreement that cover health and welfare or pension payments

Unlawful Payroll Deductions

Employers in California may not deduct the following expenses from an employee’s wages:

  • Employers taking any part of a gratuity left for an employee or deducting any of it from wages
  • Photographs required by the employer
  • Bonds required by the employer
  • Uniforms
  • Business expenses or losses that occur while carrying out your duties
  • Medical or physical examinations or any examination required by law that an employer requires as condition of employment

Damage or Loss to Company Property

An employer cannot deduct wages for damage or loss to company property, whether it is by mistake, accident, or simple negligence.  However, an employer is allowed to deduct from your wages if the damages are proven to be a result of a dishonest or willful act, or an employee’s gross negligence.  A mere accusation of a dishonest, willful or gross negligent act does not allow an employer to make a wage deduction.

Cash Drawer Shortage

An employer may not deduct cash drawer shortages from your wages.  However, an employer may take disciplinary action against you, including termination, for cash drawer shortages. An employer may also use the courts to recover damages and losses from cash drawer shortages that you caused.

Arriving Late

An employer can deduct from an employee’s wages for arriving late.  Arriving less than and up to 30 minutes late allows an employer to deduct 30 minutes of your wage.  Arriving later than 30 minutes allows an employer to deduct a proportionate amount of minutes from your wages.

Actions You Can Take Against Illegal Deductions

If an employer makes illegal deductions, you can file a wage claim with the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE).  If an employer retaliates or discriminates against you for filing or threatening to file a claim with the DLSE, you may file a claim with the Labor Commissioner. You can also file a lawsuit with the courts against your employer for making illegal deductions or retaliating against you for filing a claim with the DLSE.   

California Employment Attorneys

If you believe you have suffered an Improper Deductions violation in San Francisco, or elsewhere in California, you may be able to obtain compensation and seek justice for the wrongs you have suffered. An experienced law attorney can best investigate all the facts, including the employer's personnel practices, to determine whether California or federal laws have been violated.