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Company stole money from my friend they accused of theft...
  #1  
Old 01-28-2008, 01:20 AM
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CrazedClerkthe2nd CrazedClerkthe2nd is offline
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Default Company stole money from my friend they accused of theft...

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?

  #2  
Old 01-28-2008, 01:32 AM
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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.
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  #3  
Old 01-28-2008, 01:34 AM
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A lot of lawyers will at least give a free consultation.
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Old 01-28-2008, 02:04 AM
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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.

  #5  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:11 AM
Pedersen Pedersen is offline
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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.

  #6  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:23 AM
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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!
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  #7  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:24 AM
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If he cant afford a laywer, try phoning the local labour board
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  #8  
Old 01-28-2008, 02:42 AM
Crazeyal Crazeyal is offline
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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.

  #9  
Old 01-28-2008, 03:31 AM
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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.

  #10  
Old 01-28-2008, 03:40 AM
Crazeyal Crazeyal is offline
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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.
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