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Q: Employer forcing us to purchase new cell phones ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Employer forcing us to purchase new cell phones
Category: Business and Money > Employment
Asked by: ukcoolcat-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 07 Aug 2005 20:24 PDT
Expires: 06 Sep 2005 20:24 PDT
Question ID: 552915
I work for a company in Kentucky and we are required to have cell
phones.  In the past, the company has supplied the phone and the
employee was responsible for purchasing other items (car charger, head
phones, fancier phone, etc).

The company has decided to switch cell phone companies and is going to
"demand" that we purchase the new phones (around $310 US).  That is,
they will do a payroll deduction.  The reasoning is that the company
will save money on the new plan and wants us to have the newer phones
so they can implement GPS, etc at a later date.

Most of us do not want the new phones and are wondering if the company
can legally take money out of our paychecks for something we haven't
Subject: Re: Employer forcing us to purchase new cell phones
Answered By: landog-ga on 08 Aug 2005 00:32 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello ukcoolcat-ga and thanks for the question.

In general, payroll deductions are only lawful in a the following situations:
1. Where the employer is required to do so by law - as in federal and
state taxes, Social Security, worker's compensation, or a garnishment
2. Where the employee has authorized the deduction in writing and the
deduction is for the employee's benefit.

According to the Kentucky Department of Labor regarding a specific
question about paycheck deductions:
"Q:May my employer make deductions from my paycheck for cash
shortages, missing items or damaged items?
A: Deductions may be made for cash shortages so long as your employer
has written authorization from you to make the deduction,
the deduction does not cause your wages to fall below the applicable
minimum wage and the shortage is from
a cash register or cash box that is only used by one employee. 
Your employer may not make a deduction from your wages for lost or
stolen property or damage to property."

"...or when a deduction is expressly authorized in writing by the
employee to cover insurance premiums, hospital and medical
dues, or other deductions not amounting to a rebate or deduction from
the standard wage..."
More on this can be read in the following PDF document:

Even if you have previously signed an employment contract with your
employer specifing this type of paycheck deduction for the cell phone
deductions from your paycheck - it would still be probably prohibited
by State and federal wage and hour laws.

I would suggest you also take this matter up with the Kentucky
Department of labour:
They will help "investigate allegations of violations of the statutes
and regulations and render findings in a timely and efficient manner,
[and help] conduct wage hearings and issue wage determinations
consistent with statutory requirements.."

KY Office of Workplace Standards
1047 US Highway 127 S, Suite 4
Frankfort, KY 40601
(502) 564-3070

Or call the U.S. Department of Labor 1-866-4-USA-DOL

Good luck
ukcoolcat-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00

Subject: Re: Employer forcing us to purchase new cell phones
From: myoarin-ga on 08 Aug 2005 08:46 PDT
As a low key first argument, the employees could point out that the
company has already set a precedent by purchasing the cell phones now
in use.  If the company really is planning to invest in a GPS system,
money would not seem to be a problem.

(I wonder if there has to be an agreement with the employees to set up
a system that can track their movements? ...)

Subject: Re: Employer forcing us to purchase new cell phones
From: ukcoolcat1667-ga on 09 Aug 2005 19:01 PDT
Thanks for the all the info, its been really helpful.  

FYI, I realize I incorrectly called it a GPS system as that may
suggest it uses the GPS satallites.  It seems to be part of the cell
service and is offered by a 3rd party application.

Its a case where the whole service department suffers for 1 or 2 individuals.

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