Can my employer require me to pay for product that gets broken by me while merchandising items for the job?

UPDATED: Nov 18, 2011

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Can my employer require me to pay for product that gets broken by me while merchandising items for the job?

I am paid an hourly wage plus commission. I work in a retail setting and am required to merchandise new items daily. The employer says she cannot write this off and the employees have to pay for any damaged merchandise. I rarely break anything but recently broke a pot and a plastic pumpkin and am being charge for these items.

Asked on November 18, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Arizona


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The fact is that an employer can require that the cost of damaged property be paid by its employees. That is unless such a rule violates an employment contract, union agreement, existing company policy or is the result of some form of actionable discrimination.

In an "at will" employment arrangement an employer can impose virtually any terms of employment, etc. that it deems fit; this includes making employees cover the cost of damaged property. For their part, an employee can choose to work for an employer or not.

However, although an employee can be made to pay such damage, an employer cannot deduct any costs from the employee's paycheck (unless it has the prior right to do so as provided in the company handbook or if the employee consented to it).

Bottom line, while there can be no paycheck deduction for this money, you still can be asked to pay it. If you don't then you can be terminated for this (in fact as an at will employee you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all).

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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