It's a struggle making minimum wage in America, and federal and state paycheck deductions can make your already small paycheck even smaller. Some deductions are illegal for employers to take if the deduction reduces your wage to below the federal minimum.
It may be hard to determine what is being withheld from your check and
why, so here is a list of legal federal and state paycheck deductions-and how to tell if your employer is withholding your money illegally.
Legal paycheck deductions regardless of wage:
- Taxes - Employers may withhold federal, state and local taxes.
- Insurance - Insurance benefits that help the employee, like health insurance or life insurance, is legal for employers to take out, and also benefits the employee as they are pre-tax deductions and don't count toward income.
- Benefits provided by the employer - Employers may deduct money for transportation, food, lodging and other services, provided that they are charging fair value and merely covering the cost and not making money off their employees.
Paycheck deductions that are not legal IF they make your wage below the federal minimum:
- Shortages - Employers have a limited right to recover shortages from employees who handle money, unless they can prove the shortage is due to theft by the employee.
- Tools - Employers cannot charge employees for the use of tools and materials if it takes the employee's wage to below the federal minimum.
- Uniforms - Employers may only deduct for uniform purchase or upkeep if the employee earns higher than the minimum wage and the uniform is an actual uniform and not just street clothes that look the same. For example, if an employee is required to wear a specific protective shoe and makes above minimum wage, an employer can purchase them and deduct the cost from the employee's paycheck. If the employer also requires the same employee to wear black pants and a black shirt, those cannot be deducted as a uniform cost.
If you have been the target of workplace harassment, discrimination or unfair termination, Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. represents clients in federal court and before the EEOC, MSPB and in state and union grievance hearings.
Our attorneys have more than 35 years dedicated to giving clients the attention, advice, support and empowerment they need to effectively meet their goals. We are committed to the principle that all persons shall have equal justice under the law. Call Bouchillon, Crossan & Colburn, L.C. at 304.523.8451 or contact us online to schedule an appointment.