California Employment Law
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Assuming your contract clearly spells out that the venues fees were to be deducted from the chef's paychecks, there would certainly not be any issue with simply asking for the money back, as the overpaid sum was never earned and still belongs to you. Deducting from future paychecks would not violate any law, either. But again, if you can't prove that you were entitled to make the deductions in the first place then you risk being sued for breach of contract for making an unauthorized deduction from the chefs' pay.
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