What do I do if I was accused of stealingbut didn’t?

I worked for this company for 4 months. So when I went back to work, the District Manager publicly humiliated me and accused me of stealing $150 from the cash register. I was not the only person in that register that day. I was a banker for 10 years at Regions and have never had a shortage in a drawer. I have a break from 3-5 where someone else is in that register, then I get off at 8.. when the restaurant closes at 9:30 pm, so someone else is in the register then also. There is no proof and he said he is going to take it out of my pay. What can I do?

Asked on February 27, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

1) An employer may not take money out of your pay unless you agree to it, even if you owe (or the employer believes you owe) the employer money.

2) If an employer believes you caused it a loss (such as through stealing), the employer may sue you to recover the money--that is the way to seek repayment from an employee.

3) An employer may fire, however, any employee it chooses, if that employee does not have an employment contract protecting his or her job, at any time, for any reason, including unfair or mistaken ones. (Without a contract, you are an "employee at will.") Therefore, the employer could likely fire you if it believes you took money or are the kind of person who refuses to reimburse or correct for what you have done.

4) If the employer has publically (to any other people) accused you of stealing and that is untrue, it  may be defamation, and you may have a cause of action. Defamation is the public making of an untrue statement of fact which damages a person's reputation. Therefore, if your reputation was damaged by this, you  may wish to speak with a personal injury attorney about whether you should consider a lawsuit. Note that if the employer did not accuse you in front of other people, only to your face, there is no cause of action--any person may say anything they like directly to another person.


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