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View Full Version : Company stole money from my friend they accused of theft...


CrazedClerkthe2nd
01-28-2008, 01:20 AM
Simple story.

This took place at a local chain store that sells video games. One night my friend was working a $300 deposit bag apparently had not found its way to the safe. The management interrogated my friend about it the next day who swore up and down he didn't take the money (he didn't). Oddly enough there is no security camera in the particular location around the safe.

There were two other people working that night and of course neither of them claimed to have taken the money either. A few days after the purported theft, a guy from corporate LP paid the store a visit and questioned my friend further. Again my friend denied taking the money.

A couple of weeks after that, the company fired my friend. Officially they said it was due to poor performance (which was a load of crap, even his fellow employees agreed he was a great worker) but the implication was clear: The fired him because they thought he had stolen the money.

The situation took another twist when my friend went by the next week to pick up his last cheque...which just happened to be $300 short. My friend confronted the manager about it and the manager said he doesn't tolerate thieves and had authorization to dock my friends pay to cover the losses they believe he'd been responsible for. He complained about it repeatedly and was eventually told to leave the premises.

My friend then asked for the name of the person who authorized the deduction but the manager refused to identify who it was. He's planning to write to corporate and file a complaint to try and get his (rightfully earned) $300 back. I've told him to talk to a lawyer because in my view the company is doing to him what they are accusing him of doing to them: stealing.

The problem is my friend doesn't have much money to pay a lawyer and he's not sure it's worth the trouble to speak to one.

So I ask you people of CS, should my friend talk to a lawyer or not?

tropicsgoddess
01-28-2008, 01:32 AM
I would suggest your friend talk to a lawyer about it. I'm not sure what it's called, but in South Florida we have Legal Aid, which is low cost or free legal services for those in need that don't have the buku bucks to shell out for lawyers. have your friend check out any low cost-free lawyers in their area.

marty
01-28-2008, 01:34 AM
A lot of lawyers will at least give a free consultation.

Tuxian
01-28-2008, 02:04 AM
Tell your friend to get to a lawyer NOW. In most places, a business cannot legally dock an employee's pay without the approval of that person. And odds are, if they're doing this to him, they've done this to others. Any good lawyer will probably smell the blood in the water, and want to help him.

I wish him all the best fighting this, and that the company suffers for their irresponsible and illegal actions.

Pedersen
01-28-2008, 02:11 AM
First things first. I'm not a lawyer. I don't even play one on TV. Using any of this information as the sole basis for a legal case only shows that your friend is too stupid to deserve his money back. If a lawyer licensed to practice in your jurisdiction says it's enough for a case, that's one thing. From some random guy on the internet? That's quite another.

That said, here's what my experiences have been:

In lieu of a contract (in which case all bets are off), there is only the law to govern the interaction between employer/employee. Now, different states have different laws, but in the end, they all come down to the same end result: Your employer agrees to pay you for work (in the case of an hourly employee, the state's primary measure of work is how many hours you put in). You (as the employee) agree to come in for the hours needed to do the work needed in the manner specified.

Docking an hourly employee's wages is highly irregular, and usually only done when they are punched in, but not actually on the job.

Now, how all of this relates to your friend: They docked his pay to recoup a loss the company incurred. They've stated, without benefit of judge or jury, that your friend stole from them, and they will forcibly take back what is theirs.

In my opinion, your friend would have a strong case to take anywhere. I'd start with the local labor board. Improper paycheck withholdings tend to go over poorly with them, and that is exactly what this is.

If your friend did not take the money, then he also has another action to take: This is, at a minimum, slander. If they've written down anywhere that he took the money, then it becomes libel. Both of these are "defamation of character" actions. Only a local lawyer could tell for certain, though.

Note that I am not even intending to imply your friend took the money. But that is the statement that is being made by the company in question.

Finally keep this in mind: They don't have enough proof to make charges stick, and they know it. If they did, your friend would already have been discussing the issue with the police, and the $300 would be the least of the concerns. This is money that should be re-claimed by your friend, and can be done without having to pay for it (local labor board makes it happen).

The rest is just more info to help out if he needs/wants it.

blas
01-28-2008, 02:23 AM
If they were that hell bent that he did it, why didn't they call the police and have him arrested?

This smells like a smelly, fresh load of bullshit. Your friend is entitled to his paycheck.

Make sure he does whatever he can to get it back!

Kiwi
01-28-2008, 02:24 AM
If he cant afford a laywer, try phoning the local labour board

Crazeyal
01-28-2008, 02:42 AM
That is outright theft.

Document.
Document.
Document.

I could go on and on.. but I'm an amateur. I have been a manager in a family company, and my best friend owns a cleaning business. Every experience I've had says that hours worked=hours paid. PERIOD. Messing around with that can get you fined and even JAILED.

This sounds like a fairly large chain, and corporations simply don't make these kind of misakes easily. Either someone is SERIOUSLY undertrained, there is info that you/we don't know about, or your friend lied to you. All three have been known to happen.

But the chain store has absolutely NO RIGHT to garnish wages without consent. Especially if it is true about there being no physical proof. The only way they could legally do this, is if the bag was your friend's direct responsibility and he signed a waiver stating that he would repay any losses.

Have your friend get something STATING that they garnished his wages, why, and then hit the labor board. Do NOT cash that check, if at all possible. That is akin to accepting the garnishment (for the later legal battle!) Getting a copy of the police report, (or proof of the lack thereof) is also important.

CrazedClerkthe2nd
01-28-2008, 03:31 AM
He's not going to cash the check, his mother has been gracious enough to lend him some money to cover what the check would have been.

My friend has been documenting everything. What I believe is working strongly in his favor is the company has no definitive proof that he stole the money. Yes he was the senior employee on duty and yes he's responsible for the deposits, but he swears up and down the money should have been where it was supposed to be. He might be guilty of misplacing the money, but he most certainly didn't steal it.

Also recall there were no security cameras in the area, so there's no tape that could be used to support the company's case. It seems they just assumed since he was in charge of the money he must've taken it, completely ignoring the fact that multiple people have access to the back room where the safe is.

Crazeyal
01-28-2008, 03:40 AM
Well being responsible for the money, senior employee and all that, is bad in the long run. Was there a manager there, or was he technically the AS? This STILL, in no way excuses the company's actions. Missing money is a fireable offense, and the company can terminate at it's pleasure, ESPECIALLY if it'a an "at-will" state. Being fired, and having money stolen from you, are two VERY differant things.

Broomjockey
01-28-2008, 04:01 AM
I believe CCt2nd is Canadian, possibly Ontario. Meaning his friend is the same. That changes the rules of the game quite a bit. In his friend's favour. Can't dock wages of an employee at all, and "at-will" doesn't truly exist. If they were firing him for missing money, they had to prove it was his fault, or it had to be specifically his responsibility, with all the safeguards in place (no one else has access to the cash, that sort of thing). Also, if they say fired for poor performance, then they have to prove that too. If he's got a couple performance reviews satisfactory or higher, he's golden.

wagegoth
01-28-2008, 04:28 AM
I agree with Pedersen. Don't spend money on a lawyer when there are government agencies, paid for by your taxes, set up to handle these matters.

In some states in the U.S., an employee's pay can be docked for destruction of company property, it usually has to be shown that the employee knew that his actions would result in the destruction of the property or the loss, etc.

Sylvia727
01-28-2008, 04:44 AM
That's absolutely despicable. His manager sure seemed aggressive about it, makes me think he had a personal investment in the matter (i.e. not just passing down orders from on high). I can't believe that they're allowed to not tell you who authorized it, so your friend may want to look into that. What is corporate's policy on garnishing wages? Violating the law gets the corporation in trouble, violating policy could potentially just get the manager in trouble.

Please keep us updated.

It's me
01-28-2008, 04:56 AM
In Ontario:

http://www.labor.gov.on.ca/english/es/brochures/br_protecting.html

bainsidhe
01-28-2008, 05:40 AM
I'm with other posters that you should start by contacting your local labor board. Things may escalate from there or the sucky little company may admit to their "clerical error" and rectify the situation. Here in the US anyway, the labor board can get pretty viscious and $300.00 certainly isn't worth the trouble it will create. Just my two cents.

marasbaras
01-28-2008, 09:10 AM
I'm not a lawyer, but I used to be an employer in the State of Washington. My lawyer told me to never, NEVER dock an employee's pay like this. ESPECIALLY the last check.

Have him go to his local government labor board now. This is bad.

Irving Patrick Freleigh
01-28-2008, 09:34 AM
I'm with everybody else. Go to the labor board.

The company can't dock him for money they can't prove he stole. Or even misplaced.

Ree
01-28-2008, 10:49 AM
First things first. I'm not a lawyer. I don't even play one on TV. Using any of this information as the sole basis for a legal case only shows that your friend is too stupid to deserve his money back. I know you aren't saying that CrazedClerk's friend is stupid, right?
Poor choice of phrasing, I suspect. ;)

Other than that, good advice.

LewisLegion
01-29-2008, 09:21 PM
Even if they could prove he stole it, a company cannot legally do this. If a person causes company damage or theft, the company cannot with-hold that person's paycheck in whole or in part, even if they fire him. They HAVE to pay the person fair legal wages for his work, then turn around and either sue him for the damages or have him arrested for theft. THEY CANNOT arbitrarily withhold funds.

If they can't do it when they have PROOF of his negligence/guilt, they certainly can't do it simply because they SUSPECT his actions.

I'd say go with the lawyer.

CrazedClerkthe2nd
01-30-2008, 03:35 AM
Thanks for the advice guys, I've passed it on to my friend and he's going to spend this week contact agencies and see what happens.

He said if the money was not placed in the safe, it must've been left nearby. He thinks he put it in there but of course he does that every night so if he forgot a night, he may not remember specifics.

However, he most certainly does NOT have the money, so regardless of where it got to, it's not in his bank account (or stuffed in a mattress at his house).

Primer
01-30-2008, 08:34 PM
Gee, I wish I had known all this 30 years ago when I worked at a gas station. I was robbed at gunpoint, AND the money stolen was docked from my paycheck.

Just out of curiosity, does Phillips 66 even exist any more? They sure have disappeared from around here...

Shangri-laschild
01-31-2008, 01:23 PM
Just out of curiosity, does Phillips 66 even exist any more? They sure have disappeared from around here...

Yup we have one in my town!

Cia
02-04-2008, 05:28 AM
Just out of curiosity, does Phillips 66 even exist any more? They sure have disappeared from around here...

Yep they still exist. Whenever I pay the company's Conoco credit card I make the check out to 'Phillips 66/Conoco/76'.

marasbaras
02-04-2008, 06:07 AM
Yep they still exist. Whenever I pay the company's Conoco credit card I make the check out to 'Phillips 66/Conoco/76'.

Too much work! Just write "76" ... they'll cash it. :)