If my employer wantsreimbursement from for money stolen when I was out sick, is this legal?

UPDATED: Jan 21, 2011

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If my employer wantsreimbursement from for money stolen when I was out sick, is this legal?

I am a manager of a wireless cellphone company and we had some money stolen when I was out sick for 3 days. When I got back was when it was discovered missing because nobody deposited the money in our bank. Our owner says that he is holding me responsible for it and that I have to pay it back since I manage the store. I would like to know what my legal rights are and is what they are trying to do illegal?

Asked on January 21, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Washington


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

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

While seemingly unfair it is legal.  The reason is that most employment relationships are what is known as "at will".  What this means is that as a general rule an employer can hire or fire someone for any reason or no reason at all, as well has increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as they see fit.  In turn an employee can choose to work (or continue to work) for an employer or not.  The exceptions to this would be if there is a stated company policy contrary to the way in which your situation is being handled, or there is a union/employment agreement that does not allow for such action, or this situation has arisen due to some type of workplace discrimination.

Note: Your employer may not automatically deduct any sums that they are holding you responsible for from your paycheck without your permission (unless company policy or an employment/union contract allows for this).

Bottom line, if you want to stay you must pay.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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