What to do if I have been accused of taking money from my employer and now they want me to pay it back?

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What to do if I have been accused of taking money from my employer and now they want me to pay it back?

My boss is trying to say that I stole over $16,000. She says that I took out one amount but didn’t give her everything I took out example she says I took out $51,000 but only gave her $50,000 she only writes it in a little notebook but I never see how much she rights. Now she want me to pay all this money back by signing a contract but I don’t think I should would I have a winning chance in court? Would it be her word against mine? What should I do?

Asked on December 8, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

In the absence of documentary evidence, it will be essentially just her word vs. yours. You have a fractional advantage in that case, because if she sues you, the "burden of proof" is on her: she has to prove the case by a "preponderance of the evidence," or that it is "more likely than not" that she is right. That means that she has to be at least *slightly* more credible or persuasive than you; if the court can't choose between you and feels its 50-50 that you took the money, you  win. The court basically would have to be convinced that it's 51-49 in favor of you having taken it to find for her. Of course, it's possible that that she's a better witness (more persuasive, etc.) than you; if so, she might have the edge (and conversely, you'd have an even bigger edge than that provided by the burden of proof if you would make the better witness).
There is documentatary evidence that might help her. For example, if money was taken from a work bank account, she'll have documentation of what was taken out; and in the course of litigation, she could potentially get copies of your bank accounts, so if there are deposits to your account more or less matching the amounts she claims you took (did not turn over to her), that would support that you stole. Of if she had you take money from the business safe or cash register, etc. and deposit it, she may be able to show that you took more from the business than was deposited, etc. So depending on excactly what she claims was done, there may be some documentary evidence that she has or could get that would help her case.


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