Employment Law Questions? Ask an Employment Lawyer.
Hello! I am a licensed CA attorney who is admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here to see my ratings information) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today. According to the state of California, “Labor Code Section 224 clearly prohibits any deduction from an employee's wages which is not either authorized by the employee in writing or permitted by law, and any employer who resorts to self-help does so at its own risk as an objective test is applied to determine whether the loss was due to dishonesty, willfulness, or a grossly negligent act. If your employer makes such a deduction and it is later determined that you were not guilty of a dishonest or willful act, or grossly negligent, you would be entitled to recover the amount of the wages withheld.” So, the answer to your question is that an employer can deduct wages for something like this, but if you did not agree to pay for overages on data, in the employer cannot prove that this was due to dishonesty, wilfulness, or a grossly negligent act, then it is not allowed.
You may want to consider just writing a formal demand letter advising that this is illegal. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for a demand letter (click here). It only costs $10 and it is way cheaper than litigation.
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