What Employers May Deduct From Its Employee's Wages
Generally Oregon law limits the deductions employers can take from its employees to: (1) those it is required by law to deduct such as taxes, (2) those that are authorized in writing by the employee, are for the employee's benefit and are recorded in the employer's books; (3) the employee has voluntarily signed an authorization for a deduction for any other item, provided that the ultimate recipient of the money withheld is not the employer and that the deduction is recorded in the employer's books; (4) The deduction is authorized by a collective bargaining agreement to which the employer is a party; (5) The deduction is authorized under ORS 18.736; or (6) The deduction is made from the payment of wages upon termination of employment and is authorized pursuant to a written agreement between the employee and employer for the repayment of a loan made to the employee by the employer.
Where the Deduction Drops the Employee Below Minimum Wage, Even Less Can Be Deducted From the Employee's Wages
In addition to the limitations in step 1 above, employers cannot deduct the following from an employee's minimum wages: Employers may not deduct the cost of any of the following items from the minimum wage: (1) Tools. (2) Equipment.(3) Uniforms, including but not limited to, garments such as suits, dresses, aprons, and all other garments whatsoever as worn by the employees as a condition of employment. (4) Laundry or cleaning of uniforms. (5) Maintenance of tools, equipment or uniforms. (6) Breakage or loss of tools, equipment or uniforms. (7) Any other item required by the employer to be worn or used by the employee as a condition of employment.
If the Employer Wrongfully Deducts Wages, the Employee Can Sue For Damages
Generally, where an employer deducts wages in violation of step 1 or step 2 above, the employee can sue for the wages, plus the greater of $200 or their damages. Depending upon other factors such as whether the employer paid all minimum wages, or whether the employment relationship has ended, the employee may also have other wage claims. In such cases, the employee may be able to sue for civil penalties and penalty wages. Each of these penalties could be worth up to 30 days of wages. At $8.40 per hour, the 2009 minimum wage rate, each penalty could equal $2,016.
Costs and Attorney Fees
In lawsuits to recover wages and damages from an employer who unlawfully deducted wages, the employee may be entitled to have the employer pay his or her costs and attorney fees if the employee prevails.