What legal actions do I have as an employee to get my last 2 paychecks?

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What legal actions do I have as an employee to get my last 2 paychecks?

I was fired last week. When I went in to get my second to last paycheck, my employer said that I could take my

paycheck but he would turn me in for receiving stolen property. He then said that if I just walked away he wouldn’t

call the police. He showed me his proof which is a video of another employee handing me food. Someone ordered

something and then left without paying and it was going to be thrown away, so they gave it to me instead. Is that enough proof for me to be charged or should I get my paycheck and fight this?

Asked on June 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you could be charged based on the video depends on what the other employer will or would say: will he state that the food was going to be thrown away anyway and that he gave it to you instead? Or will he say that you took food which was not about to be discarded, taking food from the employer? The video shows you with food; but its why and how you had the food that is critical, since it is intention that determines if an act is criminal. (Example: if you and I have look-alike bags and I pick up yours by accident, thinking it is mine, that is not theft; but if know it's not my bag when pick it up, it is theft.)
As to the paychecks: if you choose to pursue them, the most straightforward, fastest, and cost-effective way to proceed would be to sue the employer for the checks in small claims court, as your own attorney. You would sue base on "breach of contract," or violation of the agreement (even if only an oral or unwritten one) pursuant to which you worked in exchange for pay. You held up your end of the agreement and did the work; now the employer must hold up its end and pay you.


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