If an employee is in a customer’s home and accidently breaks an expensive item, who is liable?

UPDATED: Jul 27, 2011

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If an employee is in a customer’s home and accidently breaks an expensive item, who is liable?

Employee was out performing a company duty in the customer’s home. An expensive vase was broken.

Asked on July 27, 2011 Minnesota


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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, your employer can require that the cost of damaged property be paid by employees. That is unless such a rule violates or runs counter to an employment contract, company policy, union agreement or is the result of workplace discrimination. In an "at will" employment situation an employer can impose virtually any terms of employment, etc. that it seems fit; this includes making employees cover the cost of damaged property.


However, although you can be made to pay for this, your employer cannot deduct any costs that you from your paycheck (unless it has the prior right to do so as provided in the company handbook, you give your consent for a deduction, etc).

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 as an at will employee you can be fired for this (in fact you can be fired for any reason or no reason at all).

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