Missing money at work

I work at a restaurant franchise. At this particular restaurant, there is only 1 register. Each employee has their own logon number and password for the register. The register computer will prompt us to occasionally drop money in the safe. On 12/24, the computer says my co-worker dropped $100 into the safe. The $100 is missing and my coworker told the manager she didn’t do a drop. I get questioned, also. I didn’t know my co-worker did a drop or even know that the money was missing until 12/26. My manager said that we’re both getting written up because of poor money handling. The day before yesterday, I was talking with my co-worker and I mention that maybe there was a computer error. She then says that maybe she meant to do the drop by entering the info in the computer but forgot to put the money in the safe. After she leaves, I call the manager and explain what I heard. The manager didn’t know about the maybe part. My co-worker just told the manager that she flat out didn’t enter anything in the computer. So I’m wondering if it’s legal to write me up along with my co-worker. I’ve repeatedly 23rd the manager that I don’t know what happened and that I would testify in court. I’ve never seen anything because it’s wrong and I don’t like breaking the law. The missing money wasn’t even under my name. I got a written warning for poor money management and if I get 2 more, then I get fired. I’ve asked to not be scheduled with the certain co-worker but the manager told me that we’re shorthanded. On the warning paper, there was a space to tell my side of the story. I

basically filled the whole back page with info I found out and denial of the crime. There was a place for my signature that wanted me to acknowledge poor job performance. I wrote that I’m only signing this as a statement, I don’t accept this warning. Is this punishment legal or not?

Asked on December 30, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the only important issue is whether you have a written employment contract for a defined period of time, such as a one-year contract, which was still in effect and which, by its terms, prevents disciplining you or terminating you for this reason. If you have such a contract, your employer may not violate it; if the employer does, you could sue the employer for "breach of contract" to enforce its terms.
However, without such a contract, you are an "employee at will." An employee at will may be disciplined, up to and including termination, at any time, for any reason whatsoever--even for things the employee did not do or which cannot be proven. An employee at will has essentially no rights or protection at work, so without a contract protecting you, this is legal.
It is possible that internal franchise rules may be being violated; possibly, if there is someone within the organization to appeal to, you could. But the law does not offer protection unless you have a written employment contract.


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