Let’s see if you can spot the employment law issue from this story, which I’ve borrowed from our local police blotter.
On April 26, the owner of a bar came to the police station regarding an ex-employee who stole his daughter’s AirPods.
The stealing incident, which took place in February, led the owner to track the pods to a house that just so happened to be the home of the ex-employee’s sister.
That’s when the owner told the employee he was withholding his last check to cover the cost of the AirPods.
The man needed a police report to document the incident and provide the state justification of docking the ex-employee $250 from his last paycheck.
What do you think?
I caution anyone to tread very carefully before docking the pay of any non-exempt employee.While such a practice is permitted under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, I have grave concerns as to whether it would pass muster under Ohio’s wage payment statute. Ohio law only permits paycheck deductions when authorized by the employee in certain specific circumstances, none of which covers a disciplinary pay docking.
This practice also raises potential issues under the FLSA. Docking the pay of an exempt employee could jeopardize his or her exempt status. You don’t want to risk employee’s exempt status under any circumstances, for fear of owing back overtime for any hours worked in excess of 40 for all work weeks for up to two years. Such a mistake could prove very costly.
Employers who are considering docking employees’ pay as a means of discipline should not do so without: (1) their counsel reviewing the offending employee’s exempt status; and (2) their counsel drafting a carefully worded document for employees to sign that explains the penalties and authorizes the wage deductions. Otherwise, any pay docking is fraught with risk.