What can happen if we refuse to pay a caregiven who stole from us?

UPDATED: Mar 16, 2012

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What can happen if we refuse to pay a caregiven who stole from us?

We hired a caregiver and she worked for 3 weeks and then money began missing. We terminated her and filed a report with the Sheriff’s department. Unfortunately this was our first experience and we did not have any information on the caregiver. She has been texting me and wanting her last week’s pay. She already stole $2,000 from my elderly parents. I refuse to pay her. Besides she will not answer her phone, only text, and she gave me 2 different addresses to send the money to; I don’t feel comfortable doing this.

Asked on March 16, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you have to pay her--the fact that she may owe you money, or committed some crime, does not absolve you of that responsibility. Your proper recourse is to sue her for the money she owes you, not to withhold her pay. If she chooses and can document that she did the work, she could potentially sue you for the unpaid wages. Of course, depending on how much she is owed, whether she wants to bring that kind of attention, etc., she may not due so--but from what you write, she would have the right to do this. If she does sue you for the money, you could counterclaim for the amount she stole, though you would need to be able to prove that she stole it by a "preponderance of the evidence"--i.e., that it is more likely than not that she did steal.

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