can your employer hold your check for a piece of equipment that another employee damaged under your watch?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

can your employer hold your check for a piece of equipment that another employee damaged under your watch?

I’m in construction, I’m a Forman on the job. I brought my own crew, except for
an operator. The company hired someone and sent him to my job site to run a piece
of heavy equipment. While he was there he put a scratch on it. They fired my
whole crew. Eventually giving them their paychecks. It has been 7 days and they
still won’t give me my paycheck. Their trying to make me pay half on the damages.
Can they take this out of my paycheck, and if I tell them no they cant take the
money out how long can they hold my check. I’m on salary and they will owe me 2
checks as of 06/03/2016.

Asked on June 2, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

No, they legally may not withhold your paycheck, even for equipment damage: if they don't pay you, you could (if you were an employee, not an independent contractor) contact the state department of labor to file a wage-and-hour complaint, and/or sue (e.g. in small claims court) for the money. If you were an independent contractor, your only option would be to sue.
(Employers may only withhold pay 1) as required by law, such as court-ordered wage garnishment or tax withholding; or 2) with employee consent, such as for health insurance premiums, or if the employee voluntarily agrees to repay something.)
What they can do is fire you, if they feel you were at fault or cost them money (or, if you don't have a contract protecting your job, if they simply feel like firing you); and they could sue you for the cost of the damage. However, if they sue you, they will only win if they can prove in court, by a "proponderance of the evidence" (i.e. that it is "more likely than not") that you were at fault in some way in causing the damage.

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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption