Common Employer Mistakes: Deductions Or Withholdings From Pay

Employers sometimes treat their employees and their employees’ paychecks as their own personal banks.  Employers withhold or deduct money from employees’ pay because of issues like cash till shortages, alleged theft of employer property, damage to employer property, and supposed responsibility for a customer’s bad check.  It is almost always illegal for an employer to do so.

Iowa law strictly limits the types of deductions that can be made from your paycheck and the circumstances under which they can be made.  Basically, your employer can withhold the money required by the state and federal government for taxes, Social Security, Medicare, etc.,  and virtually nothing else. 

The Iowa Supreme Court has emphasized that when employers believe an employee owes them money, employers cannot use their power over employees’ pay as an end run around the legal system.  If your employer thinks that you owe it money for some reason, like the examples given above, it has to pay you your full wages, and then sue you if it truly believes that it has a claim against you.  If your employer chooses to withhold the amount it claims you owe it from your pay, then it has violated Iowa’s wage laws.

Iowa law requires that employers pay the attorney fees and litigation expenses of employees who successfully sue for a violation of Iowa’s wage and hour laws.  Because there are many issues that need to be reviewed and analyzed in wage and hour matters, you should contact an attorney if you believe that your employer violated Iowa’s wage laws.  

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