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Thread: Employer threatens to make us pay for mistakes

  1. #1
    mashley80 is offline Junior Member
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    Employer threatens to make us pay for mistakes

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    Hi,
    I work as a receptionist/scheduler for a medical office. We were told by my supervisor today that in the next month, at our next meeting, that they were going to make us employees pay for computer mistakes. Meaning that if we made too many mistakes that resulted in our clients' being scheduled wrong, they were going to have US pay for those appointments. This can range anywhere between 25-45 dollars an appointment. I have never heard of this, nor do I agree with this. I try my best at my job, but at times there is human error. Is this legal? I don't understand why I would even work at place making only 9 bucks an hour and having to pay for my mistakes. Thanks a bunch.
  2. #2
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by mashley80 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    Hi,
    I work as a receptionist/scheduler for a medical office. We were told by my supervisor today that in the next month, at our next meeting, that they were going to make us employees pay for computer mistakes. Meaning that if we made too many mistakes that resulted in our clients' being scheduled wrong, they were going to have US pay for those appointments. This can range anywhere between 25-45 dollars an appointment. I have never heard of this, nor do I agree with this. I try my best at my job, but at times there is human error. Is this legal? I don't understand why I would even work at place making only 9 bucks an hour and having to pay for my mistakes. Thanks a bunch.
    I'm not entirely sure if it's legal (someone with that experience will have to chime in here), but allow me to play Devil's Advocate for a bit.

    If you knew that your own mistakes might actually cost you money, wouldn't you make the extra effort to do a bit better at checking your own work? It shouldn't make a difference whether you were making $9/hr or $29/hr, if your mistakes cost the company money, then with fair warning and notice to you, I think it that at least SOME of the responsibility should be placed on you for checking your work for simple and stupid errors.

    If you're saying you would pay closer attention if you were paid more - that is precisely the mentality which probably keeps you at that $9/hr job in the first place. I've seen many minimum wage workers who performed better, more efficiently, and committed fewer costly mistakes on their job than those in higher-paying positions (including management) in the same company. In fact, if I were a staffing decision-maker, I would rather promote someone who took more pride in their job and complained less about all the work.

    The simple solution here is in how you worded their threat: If you make TOO MANY mistakes in your job that result in clients being scheduled wrong, you SHOULD be penalized for your lack of attention to that detail. Check your work more carefully, pay attention to detail, and you won't be the "victim" of your own mistakes.
  3. #3
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by mashley80 View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Colorado

    Hi,
    I work as a receptionist/scheduler for a medical office. We were told by my supervisor today that in the next month, at our next meeting, that they were going to make us employees pay for computer mistakes. Meaning that if we made too many mistakes that resulted in our clients' being scheduled wrong, they were going to have US pay for those appointments. This can range anywhere between 25-45 dollars an appointment. I have never heard of this, nor do I agree with this. I try my best at my job, but at times there is human error. Is this legal? I don't understand why I would even work at place making only 9 bucks an hour and having to pay for my mistakes. Thanks a bunch.
    The only consequence you should face for making mistakes that cost your employer is termination from your job. Nowhere in America is it allowable for an employer to start charging its employees for making costly mistakes! I've never heard of such a thing!
  4. #4
    eerelations is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    The only consequence you should face for making mistakes that cost your employer is termination from your job. Nowhere in America is it allowable for an employer to start charging its employees for making costly mistakes! I've never heard of such a thing!
    Please cite the law(s) that prohibit this.
  5. #5
    CSO286 is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    The only consequence you should face for making mistakes that cost your employer is termination from your job.
    Too bad it isn't. Some on-the-job mistakes (and yes, I truly do mean mistakes) result in jail time and other civil and criminal repurcussions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    Nowhere in America is it allowable for an employer to start charging its employees for making costly mistakes!
    And your citation is**************..?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    I've never heard of such a thing!
    Simply shows your ignorance.
  6. #6
    commentator is offline Senior Member
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    You need to call your Colorado wage and hour division of the Department of Labor. They should be able to give you your citation. Federal wage and hour laws will be quite specific about the possibility of penalizing an employee for an error/ charging them for mistakes/ withholding wages to cover cost of materials, fines, etc. At $9.00 an hour, it would be very easy for the pay to descend below minimum wage for hours worked with a few penalties applied.

    The employer could possibly terminate you for questioning the legality of this stupid scheme. If you call in and report them, discuss this new policy with Wage and Hour, who will likely then discuss it with the employer, they won't necessarily rat you out, but the employer may find out you are the one who did it. They may decide, in this "at will" state, to terminate you for doing it. But if they do so, file at once for your unemployment benefits.

    This type employer (for some reason, medical offices are usually the worst of the bad about HR issues) will probably threaten you and tell you they'll not let you draw unemployment benefits (they're not the ones who make this decision) or that they will give you a horrible reference if you do not "just go on and resign instead of being terminated." But don't let them talk you into it.

    Even in today's job market and employment climate, there are a few federal regs that will work to your advantage. In Colorado, there is a provision for whistleblower's protection in the wage and hour statutes, so you will probably want to retain an attorney if terminated for filing a wage complaint.

    I do maintain this is a terrible stupid scheme. Even if it were legal, everything said about how it might encourage workers to try harder and do a better job is along the lines of : "The beatings will continue until morale improves!"

    A more positive way to produce better results would be something along the lines of " those who make fewer errors will be rewarded." The office might offer bonuses for extra good jobs, or incentives to produce error free work in the form of cash rewards, but they must actually pay at least minimum wage for the hours worked.

    And imagine the incentive in "I've got to be so careful! If I make a single mistake this week, I might not be able to draw enough money to pay my house payment!" That's really going to inspire employees to do a better job? NOT.
    Last edited by commentator; 05-10-2012 at 08:51 AM.
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  7. #7
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    I very much doubt that this is legal in CO. I can think of a few states where this might pass muster, but CO is not one of them.

    However, it is also true that you can be fired for making too many mistakes. Is an incentive to check your work really that bad an idea?

    FYI, you do not have a claim with the wage and hour people until someone actually is fined. A threat of potential fining is not enough.
    Willlyjo likes this.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  8. #8
    swalsh411 is offline Senior Member
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    They cannot deduct from your check without your permission but they could fire you if you refuse to give permission. You could then file for unemployment while you look for a new job. I know of no law which says they could not bill you for your mistakes and fire you if you refuse to pay. (again, you would likely qualify for unemployment if fired for this reason).
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  9. #9
    lealea1005 is offline Senior Member
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    I run a busy medical practice. On a rare occasion, a scheduling error is made and is tolerated as human error. It happens and most of the time the affected patient isunderstanding.

    I have to wonder, however, how many scheduling "mistakes" have been made at this practice that the management feels frustrated enough to find it necessary to make such a threat. More than a just a few I suspect.

    Scheduling errors = unhappy patients. Unhappy patients = decreased income for the Physician(s). Decreased income for the Physician(s) = the inability to pay their employees (aka: no jobs for receptionist/schedulers).

    Personally, I would just document the repeated mistakes, require additional training/mentoring and, if there was no improvement, fire the employee.
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  10. #10
    Proseguru is offline Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by eerelations View Post
    Please cite the law(s) that prohibit this.
    There is no law, just case opinions....and you cannot be docked pay; they can fire you.
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  11. #11
    cbg
    cbg is offline Senior Member
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    ...and even that is state specific. Federal law does NOT prohibit making the employee pay for mistakes unless it would take them below minimum wage. Most states DO prohibit it. Some states don't.
    Two things I am tired of typing: 1.) A wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you didn't do; it means that you were fired for a reason prohibited by law. 2.) The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding contract or CBA expressly says otherwise. If it does, the terms of the contract apply.
  12. #12
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by CSO286 View Post
    Too bad it isn't. Some on-the-job mistakes (and yes, I truly do mean mistakes) result in jail time and other civil and criminal repurcussions.



    And your citation is**************..?



    Simply shows your ignorance.
    We are not talking about criminal actions of employees here, we're talking about an employer charging or deducting from one's paycheck for mistakes that may cost the employer.

    Suppose you cite a case where that has actually happened! A couple of the other posts from individuals who, unlike you, know what they're talking about, apparently differ with you here. Based on that, I'd say your ignorance exceeds mine!
  13. #13
    eerelations is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    I'd say your ignorance exceeds mine!
    That's just not possible!!!
  14. #14
    eerelations is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Willlyjo View Post
    ...we're talking about an employer charging or deducting from one's paycheck for mistakes that may cost the employer.
    You may be talking about this, and some others may be talking about this, but I'm sure as heck not and neither is the OP. The OP has said nothing whatsoever about her pay being docked.

    She says that she and her coworkers will be required to make some kind of payment at the meeting next month. Sure doesn't sound like a payroll deduction to me.
    Last edited by eerelations; 05-10-2012 at 01:00 PM.
  15. #15
    Willlyjo Guest
    Quote Originally Posted by eerelations View Post
    You may be talking about this, and some others may be talking about this, but I'm sure as heck not and neither is the OP. The OP doesn't say anything whatsoever about her pay being docked.

    She says that she and her coworkers will be required to make some kind of payment at the meeting next month. Sure doesn't sound like a payroll deduction to me.
    Still, I don't think there is anywhere in America where an employer would get away with charging the employee 40.00 because such employee made a mistake that emabled a client to miss an appointment! If the employee took the employer to small claims (anywhere), I sincerely believe the judge would make them give the employee the money back!

    Again as others have said in this thread (including me), the only consequence I can see for the employee who makes mistakes, is termination.

    Hmmm...OBVIOUSLY, it CAN be possible!!

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