Accused of stealing, no pay

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Accused of stealing, no pay

Was accused of stealing because of hearsay, my boss says he has videos of me doing so but he will not show them to me to prove the accusations. Payment for a week of work is being withheld do to a law my boss has made up on the spot until he talks to his business-partner who will be gone for a month. What can I do about it am a single mom of 3 kids all under the age of 8. If anybody can help I would greatly appreciate it.

Asked on December 30, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

An employer may not withhold wages except with employee consent/agreement or as required by law (such as court-ordered wage garnishment), even if an employee does owe money for some reason, so they can't do this. You could file a wage and hour complaint with the state department of labor and/or sue (e.g. in small claims court) for the money--generally, it's best to go the dept. of labor route first.
What the employer can do--and note: unless you have a written employment contract requiring a certain process for discipline, they do *not* need evidence for any of this and can do it on "hearsay", since without a contract, you are an employee at will (i.e. have no right to your job)--is to demote you, cut your pay or hours, suspend you, or even terminate you, if they suspect you of theft; so while they can't simply hold your pay, there is a lot of things they could legally do, and again, even without evidence.
They could also sue you for the money, though to win a lawsuit, they'd need evidence--which could be in the form of testimony by a collegue, customer, etc. who says they say the theft.
So you have the right to take legal action for the withheld pay; before doing so, however, consider the other options the employer may choose to pursue as an alternative.


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