Marietta, OH asked in Business Law, Employment Law and Contracts for Ohio

Q: I work for a company in Ohio that is requiring employees to pay for damages to company equipment. Is this legal?

I believe section 4113.19 prohibits deductions from employee wages; but are there any other sections that I can reference to help get a better idea of what’s legal?

Additionally, what constitutes an “express contract”? I’m sure the “contract” was somewhere in the mountain of papers we had to sign when being hired; but even if this paper is signed does the state of Ohio allow my employer to garnish or reduce my wages for company property damages?

As a specific example, a co-worker recently hit a deer that ran out into the road and the employer is now making them pay a ($500) deductible for repair costs. This wasn’t a damage as a result of negligence but pure happenstance. Is this something that they can do?

1 Lawyer Answer
Matthew Williams
Matthew Williams
  • Cleveland, OH
  • Licensed in Ohio

A: The code section you've cited permits employers to deduct from wages for damages to company property, provided there is an express contract between the employer and the employee putting the employee on notice that he or she will be held accountable for damaged property and equipment. An express contract is one where the terms are all spelled out in an agreement. The agreement does not have to be in writing. It differs from an implied contract where the existence of a contractual relationship is inferred from the parties' behaviors. For example, if you lease a house for 12 months and on the first day of the 13th month you pay your rent, and your landlord cashes the check, and you continue to live in the house, you now have an implied month to month lease.

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