Schenectady, NY asked in Car Accidents and Employment Law for New York

Q: Who is liable when something breaks at work? In this case, the mirror on a customer car.

I work at a collision center. I was required to back a truck out of the narrow garage door. Upon doing so the edge of the mirror clipped the door and broke. My boss wants me to pay all of the damages (over $900) and wants the money today. Am I legally responsible for breaking something at work or is my boss responsible?

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1 Lawyer Answer
V. Jonas Urba
V. Jonas Urba
  • Tarrytown, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: Your boss can not legally deduct the amount from your wages. Here's why:

If you are a valued employee he will change his mind about making you pay him back. But you may have to promise him that you will never, ever do that again since you are probably an "at will" employee and he probably needs no reason at all to fire you.

If he fired you you would probably recover unemployment benefits (no guarantees). But since it's likely you will recover those benefits his rate for that will go up so, unless you have caused him issues before, or don't listen carefully to instructions, he should probably keep you but that's totally his or her choice since presumably you have no contract or union backing you up.

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