When can an employer dock an exempt employee’s pay? In the 1992 romance adventure “Far and Away,” starring Nicole Kidman and her then-husband Tom Cruise, Kidman’s character, Shannon Christie, was docked three days’ pay for calling her boss “an ugly animal,” a “pig” and “spineless little fraction of a man.”

Can an employer dock an exempt employee’s pay for being rude? What about for being late to work? Or eating someone’s lunch from the break room fridge? Before deducting an exempt employee’s pay, consider that improper pay deductions can have substantial unintended consequences for employers.