I am relatively new at a smaller software development company. I am working on a program that runs on a android bar-code scanner. The hardware is relatively expensive, around $800 for the device and $70 for a replacement charger. Apparently we borrowed this from another company to develop a app for them. I was given the device to test the program I am working on. After not using the device for two months, it has set on my desk. Today the device doesn't turn on. I assume it's the charger, but can't be sure until I try a new one. A co-worker implied that I was responsible and would have to replace the $70 charger. I'm assuming this applies to the device as well, so I'd have to replace the $800 dollar device if the charger isn't the problem. I would understand if I had spilled coffee on it, etc. It seems like a short in a charger, etc. would be paid for by the company. tl;dr Am I responsible for replace a faulty charger that stopped working over time?

  • Was there documentation that you received the scanner or was this just a "here you go, test it on this" from an employee at the other company?
    – Bluebird
    Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 22:27
  • It was "here you go," from a coworker. Commented Sep 15, 2017 at 22:49
  • 3
    Are you sure your co-worker was serious - "you're responsible" or "you touched it last" is typical of the "humour" used by more senior workers at juniors....
    – HorusKol
    Commented Sep 16, 2017 at 0:32

1 Answer 1


No, the device is used by the business to generate value for the business. You're not more responsible for this than an employee at McDonalds is responsible for the grill breaking.

Even if you HAD spilled coffee on it, I suspect you cannot be forced to replace the device either. In the US, it would likely be illegal for a company to do this (unless maybe it was intentional).

From this page from the state of California: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/faq_deductions.html

The ability of an employer to deduct amounts from an employee's wages due to a cash shortage, breakage, or loss of equipment is specifically regulated by the Industrial Welfare Commission Orders and limited by court decisions.

2.Q If I break or damage company property or lose company money while performing my job, can my employer deduct the cost/loss from my wages?

  A. No, your employer cannot legally make such a deduction from your wages if, by reason of mistake or accident a cash shortage, breakage, or loss of company property/equipment occurs. The California courts have held that losses occurring without any fault on the part of the employee or that are merely the result of simple negligence are inevitable in almost any business operation and thus, the employer must bear such losses as a cost of doing business. For example, if you accidentally drop a tray of dishes, take a bad check, or have a customer walkout without paying a check, your employer cannot deduct the loss from your paycheck.

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