CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Employers could deduct from a worker’s final paycheck the cost of unreturned company equipment and uniforms valued at $100 or more, under legislation passed Monday by West Virginia’s House.
The bill, approved 61-35, would apply where employees sign an agreement to take care of the company property. They would have an additional 10 days to return it.
Employers could deduct the original cost of equipment, such as an iPhone or uniform, despite subsequent use or depreciation, Judiciary Committee Chairman John Shott said.
“The purpose of the bill is the person who replaces that employee has to have that same item in order to perform the job for the employer,” said Shott, a Bluefield Republican. “So the employer is going to have to replace it whether the phone costs more.”
Shott voted for the bill along with most of the House’s majority Republicans.
The law wouldn’t apply to workplaces covered by union agreements.
Those who challenge deductions in court and win could collect those wages, plus damages equal to twice the original amount and attorney fees, Shott said. Claims up to $7,500 can be brought in West Virginia’s Magistrate Courts.
Currently an employer would have to go to court to get back unreturned equipment, said Delegate Mike Caputo, a Rivesville Democrat. Under the bill, the employer could withhold pay and the employee who disagrees will have to go to court, he said.
Caputo voted against the bill along with most of the chamber’s minority Democrats.
The Senate on Monday unanimously passed legislation that would require a worker to notify the company of claims for accrued unpaid fringe benefits by certified mail both to the employer’s registered agent and to the employer’s principal address before going to court. The written notice requirement won’t apply to claims exclusively for unpaid wages.