Can my employer withhold funds from my paycheck without my permission?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can my employer withhold funds from my paycheck without my permission?

I was given a promotion that I was not qualified for at the time. I received my

certification around 4 months later. Now, my boss is taking back the money I

received from my paychecks in that 4 month period in the amount on $2000.

I did not consent to her withholding my money. Is this legal?

Asked on February 24, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Georgia


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

If you worked those 4 months for an agreed upon rate, then once those hours were completed you were entitled to be paid at that rate. If your employer then wanted to change your compensation, they could do so but only for hours yet to be worked. In other words, a pay decrease cannot be retroactive. Typically, the only way that you would be obligated to pay your company back is if you agreed to do so (e.g. under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or employment contract). That having been said, if your employer feels that you commited some type of fraud, etc. when taking your promotion (i.e. you knew that you did not have your certification must misrepresented that fact to them to is detriment), then they could possibly have a claim. However, they would have to take it to court; they cannot unilaterally take money out of your paycheck. Note: If you do not agree to the repayment it could result in your termination if you are an "at will" worker; in such an employment relationshipy a worker can be dismissed for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

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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