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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    My question involves defamation in the state of: California

    Hello everyone,

    I want to seek advice about a co-worker falsely accusing me of stealing at the restaurant that I work for. Her accusation resulted in me being fired. I want to see if there is any support for me from the legal aspect. Before I seek a lawyer or anything, I want to get help here. Also, I want to see if you guys can help me evaluate my case and see if my situation is something I can win.

    About a week ago, I was at work at the restaurant and had a table pay their bill with 2 gift certificates totaling $30 and $4 cash. The bill was $23.87. I stapled the $20 gift certificate to the bill and rang in $3.87 in the register and put in the $4 cash. I kept the $10 gift certificate as a tip. I didn't think this was an issue as my boss has paid me to write the work schedule out for him with gift certificates. Also there is no employee manual that tells me any rules as to why this should be wrong. The other employee told my boss I was stealing and he fired me. I told him that I wasn't trying to steal and that it was a misunderstanding and even gave him the gift certificate. He maintained that I was fired and that I stole.

    Please help...I am trying to enter my real career in the health field and I don't want a misunderstanding ruining my name and chances of getting hired in the future. I am not a thief. I am a good person.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Key West, FL
    Posts
    2,350

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    Virtually all private employment is at will. You can be fired for anything.

    You can't sue the employer and suing the employee would be futile. You can't sue for slander in small claims and this claim would not amount to the jurisdictional minimum for a major claim.

    Life is not fair, sorry.

    You might try writing your employer and explain the situation and ask for a good reference.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    7,860

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    Your co-worker did nothing wrong. She saw what she believed was dishonest conduct and reported it. Management acted on that information. Had she lied about something, you might have had a case but she didn't from what you describe. Even if you did, as others will tell you, these types of cases are a. expensive to litigate and b. take a long time. You gave a story that many dishonest employees give and they had probably heard before. Did you talk to the actual manager of the restaurant or just the manager on duty? If it was just an MOD, you could try appealing to the GM but don't hold your breath.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    Thank you for your advice...the only thing I'm not clear on is that I don't see what I did wrong. There is no employee rule book or anything and since he has paid me with gift certificates in the past,how am I to know which ones I am allowed to have and which ones I am not? The ones he paid me with were worth even more. If I did something wrong that is one thing but to call it stealing seems like defamation. I wasn't trying to hide anything. I am being punished but I am still not clear on what I should have done...

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,339

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    It's one thing for the boss to provide you with gift certificates. It's quite another for you to decide for yourself to "pay yourself" with them.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    what should I have done with the gift certificate? thrown it away? I offered it back to the table telling them they had given too much and they said it was for me. when we get gift certificates at that job and there is a remaining balance, he has always given us (and has been fine with other employees giving each other) the remaining difference. does no one see why I am confused? i can see if i did something wrong maybe tell me hey thats not what we do here or even suspend me or write me up or something....but to call me a thief and ruin my good name seems extreme. I have even tried to talk to him and he says things like "ahhh i see how this was a misunderstanding" and "ok that makes sense" but I still have that title as to why I am no longer working there. I don't care if I get my job back (I am an at will employee in california anyways = he can do what he wants) but I want my name cleared.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    Massachusetts
    Posts
    24,339

    Default Re: Falsely Accused of Stealing from Work

    You should have taken it to the boss, said, "Here, this is what I received. Here is the bill, here is the cash, here are the gift certificates; what do you want me to do?" THEN if he had told you to keep the gift certificate, you would have been covered.

    As it was, your actions legitimately looked like stealing to someone, who rightfully reported it. It was his option to fire you. And your name has not been injured until or unless he tells a third party that you stole.

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