Thank you again for your reply.
It would seem that the conduct you describe is almost certainly illegal
. While employers do not have to pay hourly employees for time they do not work, the fact is that wages were
paid. Whether these wages were intended as a bonus of some kind, vacation pay, sick pay, or something else does not matter. Once wages are issued, provided the issuance is not by mistake, an employer cannot demand reimbursement for them and CERTAINLY cannot deduct from an employee's subsequently earned wages to pay that amount back.
California law zealously protects an employee's right to earned wages and permits wage deductions only in certain extremely limited circumstances as regulated by statute. See here for more information: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_deductions.htm
What you descirbe sounds like a highly illegal practice that may actually land your employer in a lot of trouble. An inividual in your circumstance would be wise to file a wage claim withthe Department of Labor Standards Enforcement, who will investigate this matter and issue an appropriate ruling. Employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who file wage claims with the DLSE, so if any adverse employment action were to be taken against you following your complaint, that would give rise to an additional claim for compensatory damages.
To file a wage claim with the DLSE, visit this link: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/howtofilewageclaim.htm
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