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What wage deductions are unlawful in California?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Wage And Hour Claims

Relationships between employers and their employees can be tricky, considering even the simplest concerns arising from employment could have legal implications based on federal and state laws. Some matters can be easy to settle, but others, such as issues involving wages, could pose challenges depending on the circumstances.

In California, there are three ways employers can legally make deductions from employee wages: if authorized by the employee, relevant employment law allows it or it is part of a collective bargaining agreement. Typically, these deductions are unlawful:

  • Gratuities, tips and other amounts explicitly left for an employee
  • Requirements for the employee to perform their job, such as photos, uniforms and other business costs
  • Medical exams ordered as prerequisites to initiate employment
  • Expenses related to any employment terms or conditions, such as bonds

Subtracting damages from broken company equipment and other items may also be unlawful. There can be exceptions only if the employer can prove that the employee intentionally committed misconduct to cause these damages. 

Additionally, deduction practices can become illegal despite having authorizations and other documentation. The issue can stem from circumstances relevant to the deduction. The outcome of these scenarios can vary significantly, usually requiring thorough deliberation before determining if legal action is appropriate.

Fully understanding wage-related issues before filing a claim

Seeing an unfamiliar deduction after receiving a pay stub can be shocking, especially if the employee has no memory of authorizing these cuts. Still, some of these items could be lawful without issuing authorizations, such as garnishments for legal obligations and other contributions. Before reacting negatively, consider seeking legal counsel to evaluate if valid issues exist. After verifying these concerns, experienced insight can help determine the appropriate steps to address these unlawful wage deductions.