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Tennessee employees may be interested to learn that The Walt Disney Company has settled with the U.S. Department of Labor after it was accused of taking improper deductions from employees’ paychecks for company uniforms. The company ultimately agreed to settle for about $3.8 million which will go towards paying back wages owed to more than 16,000 employees.

During the investigation, the Department of Labor determined that the deductions made to employee paychecks brought their wages to below the federal minimum wage. Further, it appeared that the company also failed to pay employees for all of the time that they worked, even if this time was before or after their scheduled shifts.

Under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act, employers can require employees to purchase uniforms as long as the uniform deductions do not take workers below minimum wage. However, it should be noted that state laws can vary widely. In the state of Tennessee, for example, an employer cannot deduct wages from an employee’s paycheck without a written consent. If an employee gives written consent, however, an employer can deduct cash shortages and the cost of required tools and other necessary work items from an employee’s paycheck.

Wage and hour laws protect employees against unfair employment practices that can prevent them from earning a living wage. If an employee is making less than minimum wage due to uniform deductions or deductions that were not consented to by the employee, an employment attorney may be able to help. The attorney may file a lawsuit against the employer in order to seek compensation in the amount that is owed to the employee. If the company denies the allegations and refuses to settle out of court, the attorney may take the case to trial.