The answer to this question is “it depends.” Nevada law allows employers to deduct wages from a paycheck if (1) the deduction is required by law (e.g. taxes, child support, etc.); or (2) if the deduction is for a program that benefits the employee (e.g. health insurance or a pension plan).
To deduct wages for any other reason, the employer must meet three requirements:
- The employer must have “a reasonable basis to believe the employee is responsible for the amount being deducted by the employer”;
- “The deduction is for a specific purpose, pay period and amount”; and
- “The employee voluntarily authorizes the employer, in writing, to deduct the amount from the wages.” (NAC 608.160).
The law also specifies that an employer can’t use a blanket authorization made in advance to cover any amount of wages it wishes to withhold from the employee.
To sum this up, unless an employee voluntarily authorizes an employer in writing to deduct wages from the employee’s paycheck for a specific purpose, pay period, and amount, the employer cannot deduct wages for things like damage to the employer’s property, a miscount in the cash register, or other debts owed to the employer.
Federal law also prohibits employers from deducting wages for these kinds of things if the deduction would cause the employee’s hourly wage to dip below minimum wage.
Note also that Nevada law prohibits employers from requiring an employee to rebate, refund, or return any portion of pay that the employee earned and was already paid.
What Can an Employer Do?
To be reimbursed for something an employee owes, an employer needs to file a case in small claims court or district court.
What Can an Employee Do?
An employee has two primary options when an employer improperly deducts wages from a paycheck. First, an employee can file a complaint with the Nevada Labor Commission (see here), or, second, an employee can file a private lawsuit to attempt to recover lost wages. Employees who wish to pursue a lawsuit should consult an attorney about the costs, risks, and potential rewards of doing so.