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Loren, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Is it legal to withhold the cost of stolen fuel from an employees

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Is it legal to withhold the cost of stolen fuel from an employees paycheck? I am having him sign a release of the funds.
Thank you for using JustAnswer. I am JudgeLaw and I will do whatever I can to answer your question nd provide excellent service.

Before we begin, a bit more detail will be helpful p,ease.

Did the employee steal fuel or was fuel stolen while the employee was on duty?

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The employee actually used a credit card to take a trip across country, he traveled from North Dakota to Colorado and then to Maine. The total of the fuel used was $1035.00 that was put on a company credit card.

Thank you for the additional information.

I am sorry to hear of your dilemma.   I realize how frustrating this is for you and I hope to provide you information which is accurate and useful, even though it may not be the news you were hoping to get.

The US and Colorado Dept of Labor are actually pretty strict about withholding debt or expenses from an employee's paycheck. If there was a "misuse" of a company credit card then a prior agreement, signed by the employee, would be required to withhold any expenses from his or her check.

If this was a case of actual theft then you could withhold the stolen amount from the check but only if the theft were reported to law enforcement.

Otherwise, your remedy is to pay the employee the wages owed and sue them for the repayment of the credit card expenses.

I am sorry. I realize this is not the answer you were hoping for. As a professional, however, I am sometimes placed in the position of having to deliver news which is not favorable to a customer's position, but accurately reflects their position under the law. I hate it, but it happens and I ask that you not penalize me for having to deliver less than favorable news.

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Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I do understand that there are strict guidelines regarding withholding funds from an employee's pay, thus the reason for contacting you with regard to this matter. However, the employee has agreed to sign a release giving the company permission to withhold the funds in exchange for no criminal charges being pursued. Will this be sufficient or will we need to pursue the charges?

Thank you for following up with me.

Such an agreement is not compliant. You would be better off paying the employee and having him give you a certified or cashier's check for fuel. Otherwise, you could also have him sign a note. Unless you are going to report this to the authorities, you can not legally withhold the amount from his pay without exposing yourself to liability.

I hope this clarifies the answer.

Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you. You have answered all of my questions,

You are very welcome. I am happy to have been of service to you and hope you found that service no less than excellent.

Thank you.


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