Can an employer make me pay for something i accidentally broke?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can an employer make me pay for something i accidentally broke?

So today I broke a machine accidentally and
apparently it cost around 10k can my employer
make me pay for it?

Asked on January 10, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

The employer cannot simply take it from your salary or wages without your consent (agreement): the law is very clear that money may only be withheld from employee pay with employee consent or a court order (such as for wage garnishment). 
But you could be fired for breaking the machine and not paying for it (or anything less than firing: demoted; pay or hours cut; suspended; etc.). And because a person who carelessly breaks or damages another's property is liable, or financially responsible, for the cost to repair or replace (whichever is lower), they could also sue you for the money. So they have consideratable leverage to get you to agree to pay for it "voluntarily," since otherwise, you could be fired and sued.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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