Is there a written emplloyment contract that says that the company can use this "self-help" method to recover the cost of its property from its employees? If not, then the company can't, and will have to comply with state labor codes regarding paychecks and regarding recovery via suit for "conversion" (civil theft) of the company's tools.
PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE YOU COMMENT, EMAIL ME OR PHONE ME. I'm only licensed in CA. This answer doesn't make me your lawyer, and neither do follow-up comments and/or emails and/or phone calls, and you shouldn't expect me to respond to your further questions if you haven't hired me. We need an actual agreement confirmed in writing before any attorney-client relationship is formed. This answer doesn't constitute legal advice, and shouldn't be relied on, since each state has different laws, each situation is fact specific, and it is impossible to evaluate a legal problem without a comprehensive consultation and review of all the facts and documents at issue.
I agree with Ms. Koslyn.The employment contract should tell you if you can do this (because the employee agreed to that). If you do not have it in your current employment contract, it might be advisable to change it so it would cover situations like this in the future with future employees. In the mean time, if the employment contract doesn't help you, go to court.
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