Withheld paycheck and harassment from boss

UPDATED: Oct 2, 2022

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Withheld paycheck and harassment from boss

I’m asking on the behalf of my mother, shes’s been at this job for 10 plus years as a receptionist/front office for a dentist office. The dentist just sold his practice to a new dentist and that’s when the problems have started. The new dentist has repeated harassment to my mother yelling at her, down grading her, accusing her of stealing money even through she was dealing with insurance companies to not double bill the patients. The dentist has told my mom that she knows everything that goes on in the office kind of like hinting there are cameras through the office. My mother can’t afford to just quit without unemployment so she deals with the dentist. The dentist has withheld one pay check that I know of hoping it will force my mom to quit. When my mom gets yelled at its always in the dentist office. Never seen my mom so broken everyday crying when she gets home dreading the next work day. If my mom did quit could she collect unemployment? Is it against the law for my mom record one of her degrading fits from the dentist? One of the hygienist that worked within that office way before the new dentist bought the practice finally had enough and quit working there. I just don’t know what can be done but I do know she has no right to treat my mom like this.

Asked on August 16, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) Harassment like you describe is perfectly legal, unfortunately. Employment in this country is "employment at will," which means employees have no rights to their jobs--which also means the employer has no obligation to be fair, reasonable, professional, etc. An employer can harass an employee or be as mean and cruel to her as she likes. Since the employer has the right to do this, if your mother quits, it will be a voluntary separation (i.e. resignation) from employment and she will not get unemployment benefits.
2) An employer may NOT withhold a paycheck without employee consent: if an employer doesn't like an employee, he can fire her, but must pay her for all work she did up to when he fired her. Withholding pay is not legal. Your mother can contact the state department of labor to file a complaint for the money.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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