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Can we garnish wages if an employee destroys company property?

Matt Treat's Profile


Topic Expert
Regis Quirin
Title: Director of Finance
Company: Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP
LinkedIn Profile
(Director of Finance, Gibney Anthony & Flaherty LLP) |

Please check your Employee Handbook or the Employment Documentation for this individual, when on-boarded. But, it is not uncommon for employees to break blackberry's and laptops. Very early in my career I spilled a large cup of coffee on a key board. Things happen.

However, if you think the destruction was on purpose, you should consult an employment attorney.

After this situation, please take a moment to add a policy to your handbook, so if and when the situation occurs in the future, there will be no question as to how to proceed.

Ted Monohon
Title: VP -Finance / Controller
Company: Fantex
(VP -Finance / Controller, Fantex) |

This is a matter of state employment law. Under California law, you cannont deduct this without written agreement. I don't believe a statement in the policy manual would suffice, however, I would check with an employment lawyer to see how to proceed. It will depend on facts and circumstances.

Topic Expert
Vernon Reizman
Title: CFO
Company: RCM Industries, Inc.
(CFO, RCM Industries, Inc.) |

In Illinois, If you do not have a prior signed agrement it would be unlawful to withold any wages due the employee regardless of the circumstances. You need to discuss the specific facts with your attorney for the laws in your area.

Topic Expert
Malak Kazan
Title: VP, Special Projects
Company: ERI Economic Research Institute
(VP, Special Projects, ERI Economic Research Institute) |

I would add that while gathering facts a key determinant is whether the damage occurred while using the equipment / property for authorized vs. unauthorized use. To Regis' point, damage is always possible during the normal course of business.

Topic Expert
Shannon Mathews
Title: Controller
Company: Aldrich Services LLP
(Controller, Aldrich Services LLP) |

In most states the only way to recover the cost of property damaged by an employee is to ask them to repay via a check. If they don't want to pay then small claims court. As stated above most states do not allow you to withhold amounts from an employees wages without their written consent. Most attorney's recommend against withholding it from an employees wages even with consent due to the laws in many states.

Topic Expert
Barrett Peterson
Title: Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis
Company: TTX
(Senior Manager, Actg Stnds & Analysis, TTX) |

You may be able to file a civil suit for recovery. Garnishments generally require a court order to initiate, which you will not have solely upon the destruction.

Robert Honeyman
Title: CFO
Company: Advanced Predictive Analytics
(CFO, Advanced Predictive Analytics) |

If the destruction is a firing offense, I'd be inclined to withhold from the final paycheck. If the former employee brings suit, file a counter suit.

If it's not cause for termination, there has to be a written agreement with the employee on the means and terms of restitution. I'm having a hard time visualizing a situation where a company would demand restitution but not want to terminate.


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