Is it legal to require employees to pay for ruined or mistaken food orders while working for a restaurant?

UPDATED: Aug 26, 2012

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Is it legal to require employees to pay for ruined or mistaken food orders while working for a restaurant?

My boss, since I began employment, has forced us to have our wages deducted or pay upfront costs for food orders that are made incorrectly or destroyed. I have complied with it before until several other employees of different food businesses said it’s illegal to pay for such mistakes. The business isn’t a franchise, is privately owned and currently has no union.

Asked on August 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

An employer may not deduct wages from an employee without employee consent or agreement (except as required by law, such as for taxes). So your employer cannot simply take money from you against your will.

However, if you do not have employment contracts protecting or guarantying your employment, your employer could fire a server for incorrect orders or otherwise costing it money unless the server agrees to reimburse the employer for the cost. So you could refuse to allow a deduction and save that money, but then lose your job.

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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