Does Your Employer Unlawfully Garnish Wages?

Did Your Employer Deduct Your Pay Because of a Shortage in the Cash Register?

Sometimes, mistakes happen at work, resulting in financial losses. Some mistakes are avoidable, whereas others are unavoidable. Among the workers with the highest risk of incurring losses at work are cashiers. Sometimes shortages in cash registers happen because of a cashier’s mistake, and other times shortages occur because of theft. If you suffered a deficit in the cash register (either because of your own mistake or theft) and then your employer garnished your wages to cover that shortage, you might be wondering whether what your employer did is legal.

Can an employer garnish wages to cover a shortage in a cash register? In New Jersey, an employer is not legally allowed to withhold payment or require an employee to pay for a cash shortage in a cash register. Employees in New Jersey are also not legally allowed to withhold pay or otherwise require an employee to pay for theft by a customer or another person or breakage. Additionally, even if an individual refuses to return company property after leaving a job, an employer cannot make the individual pay for the property by deducting money from their final paycheck.

What Does New Jersey Law Say About Deducting Employee Wages?

As already stated, in New Jersey, an employer cannot garnish wages for, among other things;

  • Cash shortages
  • Breakage
  • Loss of property
  • Damage of property

According to N.J.S.A. 34:11-4.4 (Withholding from wages), employers in New Jersey are prohibited from withholding or diverting any portion of an employee’s paycheck unless;

  • They are empowered to do so by state or federal law; or
  • The money withheld, deducted, or diverted is for, among other things, the following:
    • Contributions to insurance, employee welfare, hospitalization, pension, retirement, among others.
    • Contributions for payment into company-operated thrift plans.
    • Payment into employee personal savings accounts.
    • Contribution for organized and recognized charities.
    • Payments for the rental of working clothing or uniform.
    • Payments for the laundering or dry cleaning of working clothing or uniforms.
    • Labor organization dues and initiation fees.

It is crucial to note that, even for employers to deduct money from employees’ paychecks for the above allowable purposes, the contributions or deductions must have been authorized either in writing by employees or under a collective bargaining agreement.

In conclusion, you must note that, in the absence of a contract, an employer can dismiss an employee for causing the company a loss. Generally, an at-will employee can be terminated as long as the dismissal does not violate Federal or State laws.

If you have been wrongly made to pay for a shortage in the cash register or breakage of property, loss of property, or damage of property, contact Trabosh Law Firm to find out your rights.