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Unpaid Reimbursements and Illegal Wage Deductions

California Illegal Wage Deductions Attorneys


Under California law, no employer can withhold from any employee’s wages any part of the agreed wage rate; unless:

  • the employer is required to do so by local, state, or federal law;
  • when a deduction is authorized in writing by the employee to cover things like insurance premiums, hospital, or medical dues;
  • other deductions not amounting to a rebate or deduction from the standard wage arrived at by collective bargaining or wage agreement or statute;
  • deductions for union dues where such deductions are authorized by joint wage agreements or collective bargaining contracts negotiated between employers and employees or their representatives.

Employers cannot deduct the following from the wages of employees:

  • Fines;
  • Cash shortages in a common cash box or register used by two (2) or more coworkers;
  • Breakage;
  • Losses due to acceptance by an employee of checks which are subsequently dishonored if such employee is given discretion to accept or reject any check;
  • Losses due to defective or faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, damage to property, default of customer credit or nonpayment for goods or services received by the customer if such losses are not attributable to employee’s willful or intentional disregard of employer’s interest.


California employees must be reimbursed for their employment-related expenses.

Section 2804 of the California Labor Code precludes any contract or agreement by which any employee agrees to waive the right to be reimbursed for all of their expenses.

Under certain circumstances as in the trades, an employer can require that employees furnish “hand tools and equipment” if the hand tools and equipment are “customarily required by the trade or craft.” These are non-reimbursable expenses.

An employer cannot require that its employees purchase clothing from the employer. This does not preclude a business from requiring that a uniform be worn. If an employer requires a uniform, the employer must pay for its cost.

California employees must be reimbursed for their employment-related expenses, including mileage reimbursement. Although the IRS rate is not required to be used, it often is.


If your employer is deducting expenses from your paycheck for uniforms, supplies, tools, and equipment, and these items are required by your employer for the performance of your job, these deductions may be illegal. If your employer is not reimbursing you for things employment-related expenses, you could be losing out on money your boss is required to pay you. Contact the employment lawyers at the law offices of Law Offices of Kevin T. Barnes for an appointment and legal counsel.