Oregon law generally prohibits an employer from deducting any amount from an employees wages, unless the deduction is required by law (e.g. payroll tax withholding, garnishments) -- or unless the employee has given written authorization for the deduction.
The written authorization required for deduction, must consist of the employee's signature and specifically allow the deduction; merely signing an acknowledgment that company policy is to make the deduction, is not sufficient to make the deduction legal.
Even if the wage deductions are authorized by the employee in writing, the ultimate recipient of the money cannot be the employer.
For example, an employer cannot deduct from an employee's wages for till shortages, customer bad checks, or negligent destruction of company property, even with a written authorization to do so.
Oregon law provides for a minimum penalty of $200 for each illegal deduction made. Additionally, if the employment has terminated, the employee is often entitled to an additional 30-days' of pay as a penalty for late final pay, as well as attorney fees.
Copyright Brian A. Buchanan - Oregon Center for Employee Rights (2014). All rights reserved.