Illegal Payroll Deductions Under Wisconsin Law

If Your Employer Deducts Pay from Your Wages, You May Be Able to Recover Lost Wages

Wisconsin Protects Workers from Payroll Deductions

Most employer payroll deductions which bring an employee’s wages below minimum wage are illegal. In addition, Wisconsin law prohibits an employer from making deductions from an employee’s earned wages for business losses such as defective or faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, or damage to property unless the employee authorizes the payroll deduction in writing after the loss is suffered by the employer.

Examples of Illegal Deductions

There are many instances when an employer might attempt to dock an employee’s wages. For example, a restaurant employer may try to take the lost money from a dine-and-dash customer out of a server’s paycheck. A manufacturer may try to dock wages for products damaged during the manufacturing process. Or a business may try to cut an employee’s commissions for returned checks or cash shortages. These deductions are not allowed unless an employee has the opportunity to show that the loss to the business was not their fault.

Specific Payroll Deduction Exemptions

Under Wisconsin law, deductions from an employee’s earned wages are only allowed in three circumstances:

  • If the employee gives written authorization to the employer to make the deduction after the loss but before the employer makes the deduction
  • If the employer and a representative of the employee mutually agree that the loss is due to the employee’s negligence, carelessness, or willful and intentional conduct
  • If the employee is found guilty or liable in court for the loss

For all three of these exceptions, the employer can only make a deduction from pay after the employee has had an opportunity to show that the loss to the business was not their fault. An employer may try to have an employee sign a blanket authorization for deductions for losses at the start of their employment, and then rely on this authorization to make a deduction later. This is not allowed under Wisconsin law. There has to be a separate, written authorization for each deduction, made after the alleged loss to the business.

Payroll Deductions for Meals or Lodging

Employers might also make deductions from earned wages for meals and lodging provided to employees. Wisconsin law limits the amount an employer is allowed to deduct for such benefits. Moreover, under Wisconsin wage laws, an employer is prohibited from deducting more than $58.00 a week for lodging provided by the employer and $87.00 a week for meals provided by the employer. Finally, for seasonal, non-resident agricultural employees, deductions for room and board that would result in the employee receiving less than minimum wage are not permitted.

Contact Us

If you think your employer may be illegally deducting pay from your wages, Hawks Quindel’s wage and hour team will provide you with a free case evaluation to answer your questions and evaluate your potential claim.

Please contact Hawks Quindel if you would like to discuss your wage rights under federal FLSA or Wisconsin wage and hour laws. Please call a Madison wage attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee wage attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

Wisconsin Protects Workers from Payroll Deductions

Most employer payroll deductions which bring an employee’s wages below minimum wage are illegal. In addition, Wisconsin law prohibits an employer from making deductions from an employee’s earned wages for business losses such as defective or faulty workmanship, lost or stolen property, or damage to property unless the employee authorizes the payroll deduction in writing after the loss is suffered by the employer.

Examples of Illegal Deductions

There are many instances when an employer might attempt to dock an employee’s wages. For example, a restaurant employer may try to take the lost money from a dine-and-dash customer out of a server’s paycheck. A manufacturer may try to dock wages for products damaged during the manufacturing process. Or a business may try to cut an employee’s commissions for returned checks or cash shortages. These deductions are not allowed unless an employee has the opportunity to show that the loss to the business was not their fault.

Specific Payroll Deduction Exemptions

Under Wisconsin law, deductions from an employee’s earned wages are only allowed in three circumstances:

  • If the employee gives written authorization to the employer to make the deduction after the loss but before the employer makes the deduction
  • If the employer and a representative of the employee mutually agree that the loss is due to the employee’s negligence, carelessness, or willful and intentional conduct
  • If the employee is found guilty or liable in court for the loss

For all three of these exceptions, the employer can only make a deduction from pay after the employee has had an opportunity to show that the loss to the business was not their fault. An employer may try to have an employee sign a blanket authorization for deductions for losses at the start of their employment, and then rely on this authorization to make a deduction later. This is not allowed under Wisconsin law. There has to be a separate, written authorization for each deduction, made after the alleged loss to the business.

Payroll Deductions for Meals or Lodging

Employers might also make deductions from earned wages for meals and lodging provided to employees. Wisconsin law limits the amount an employer is allowed to deduct for such benefits. Moreover, under Wisconsin wage laws, an employer is prohibited from deducting more than $58.00 a week for lodging provided by the employer and $87.00 a week for meals provided by the employer. Finally, for seasonal, non-resident agricultural employees, deductions for room and board that would result in the employee receiving less than minimum wage are not permitted.

Contact Us

If you think your employer may be illegally deducting pay from your wages, Hawks Quindel’s wage and hour team will provide you with a free case evaluation to answer your questions and evaluate your potential claim.

Please contact Hawks Quindel if you would like to discuss your wage rights under federal FLSA or Wisconsin wage and hour laws. Please call a Madison wage attorney directly at (608) 257-0040 or a Milwaukee wage attorney at (414) 271-8650, or email us via our Contact Page.

Tell us Your Story.
We’ll Tell you If We Can Help.

et|icon_house|

Family & Divorce

fas|fa-balance-scale|

Labor Law

fas|fa-piggy-bank|

Social Security

mt|attach_money|

Employee Benefits

fas|fa-car|

Personal Injury

fas|fa-money-check-alt|

Wage & Hour

et|icon_tools|

Worker's Compensation

fas|fa-wheelchair|

Disability Benefits

fas|fa-shopping-cart|

Consumer Law

fas|fa-ambulance|

Duty Disability