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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 34674
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I feel like my boss is trying to break me. He has cut my work

Customer Question

I feel like my boss is trying to break me. He has cut my work hours 9 weeks in a row over a theft he told me to my face he knows I did not do. Money went missing and when I was was told they wanted the money that was missing, taken out of my check by me and put in the palm of their hand I told them no. I said he wouldn't get a cent from me because I have not stolen from him that if a cent went missing out of my check I would call the labor board. He got pissed that I threatened to take action over getting punished for something i did not do. he told my manager to cut my hours significantly to a third of what i was at. My manager fought for me and got my hours up a bit but nothing like they have been for the past almost two years i have been working here. Our whole store has cameras, but he has refused to sit and watch them for 9 weeks. He refuses to let the managers sit and watch the cameras to find out who is stealing. Instead I got told to my face a coworker was setting me up and they continue to cut my hours every week. I got told at our last staff meeting seniority means nothing that it's how hard you work. That applies to every employee but me. I can work until i have bloody nubs for hands miles above everyone but when the schedule comes out. I know that I will have the least hours. IT doesn't matter what schedule the managers make the owner goes to it after and cuts my hours down to nothing. Ive been desperately trying to wait out the grudge he has against me. It's 9 weeks in though and my bills are piling up because my ends don't meet anymore and its ruining my every being of life with stress. I can't help but cry every time the schedule comes out. It's like being told " here is two more weeks of darkness, being punished for something you didn't do". The best part is When ever i try to ask my manager why the owner is still doing this to me he tells me the owner claims he is "doing it for her protection". They changed the way they ran things so money stopped going missing but I'm still being punished 9 weeks later for something i was told i did not do. just because I refused to give in to the shady bs of giving him money in the palm of his hand for replacement of something I did not do, out of my check. One of my employees had the same thing happen and he was told pretty much "money in my palm or you are fired" and jobs are so few he paid 100$ out of his check to keep his job for something he didn't steal.They tell us constantly that if we don't like how we are treated then quit because we are replaceable. They make sure to tell us all the time how replaceable we are because we live in a small city with no options for jobs. They know we have nowhere to go and we get treated as such. The owner knows I have no where to go, and he knows by word of the managers how bad this is hurting me financially. I cry every time I see the schedule and I dont know what to do I cant pay my bills and I'm over come with stress and depression over this 9 week grudge.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
Hi,

I suspect that you don't have a written contract with your employer, correct?

Also, do you suspect that the action in cutting your hours is based on your gender, national origin, race, or religion?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

-ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

The owner has always looked down on women and anyone that tries to tell him any opinion at all. It's a very "this is how it's done if you don't like it you don't have to be here" he will cut you off mid sentence to make sure you know he doesn't give a crap about your thoughts or you as a person. We have two other females there but right now I'm the only one on a staff of 8 that is being punished and having my hours cut weekly. I haven't botherd trying to ask the owner why he keeps doing it because i know its purely a grudge that he will lie about. Coworkers get write ups and constantly in trouble for things but are always above me in hours. I've never had any form of write up. He is mad I threatened him with the board. The second the managers told him what I had told them about no way in hell is he taking money from me for what i didnt do. I got told that he immediately told them to cut my hours to 10 a week but one of my managers fought for me saying she needed me more. so I've been at 19-21 a week for 9 weeks, lowest on every schedule.

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
I think this is a terrible situation and I'm very sorry that you are going through it.

Unfortunately, based on these facts, it does not sound like there is much you can do other than quite and seek unemployment. You can claim that your boss was creating such a hostile work environment that they forced you to leave. They are likely to fight it, but by telling your story you have a good argument to be entitled to unemployment benefits.

Your employer can decide to cut your hours for any reason as long as it is not an illegal reason, i.e., racial discrimination or gender bias. You might try bringing an EEOC claim against your employer based on gender discrimination. If there has ever been any sexual harassment, then this would definitely help your claim.

You can file an complaint by following the instructions listed here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/HowToFileDiscriminationComplaint.htm

Please let me know if you have any further questions. If you do not, please rate my services positively so that the website will pay me for my work on your questions.

Best of Luck,
ZDN
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

So pretty much he wins. Demands money under the table from me for something i didn't do. Tell him no and get my hours cut and punished for 9 weeks straight, then I get told there wont be an end. there is no way to force him to watch the cameras and prove he is unjustly punishing me. I spent my last 33 dollars on this and honestly I'm sitting here crying because I thought just maybe just maybe I could get some sort of relief.instead I went against my better judgement and blew money I don't have.To get told instead it's keep letting them kick you or quit like he wants and maybe after a couple months of fighting my ends will meet when it's already piled up from the past 2 months of abuse. Then MAYBE I'll get unemployment which will be what I'm making now or less which has proven wont pay my bills. Now I'm more in debt and even more hopeless.

Expert:  TexLaw replied 1 year ago.
I understand your frustration. The advice I've given is all I can think of, but I'm going to put your question back out to the forum to see if there are any other attorneys who might have a better idea of what you can do than I do.

Don't respond to this post as it will only delay the relisting of your question on the forum.

Thanks and good luck,
ZDN
Expert:  Wendy-Mod replied 1 year ago.
Hi, I am a moderator for this topic. It seems the Professional has left this conversation. This happens occasionally, and it's usually because the professional thinks that someone else might be a better match for your question. I've been working hard to find a new Professional to assist you right away, but sometimes finding the right Professional can take a little longer than expected.

I wonder whether you're ok with continuing to wait for an answer. If you are, please let me know and I will continue my search. If not, feel free to let me know and I will cancel this question for you.

Thank you!
Wendy
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
At this point I don't feel I have a choice. Basically everyone I've asked says there is nothing I can do. I get accused of stealing, get money demanded from me without proof, and when I refuse to give it my hours get cut, then they come up to me and say they know I'm not stealing but my hours remain the least because the owner holds a grudge.Apparently there isn't a law saying that its illegal to punish someone with hour cuts continuously over a grudge. It's not like I have anywhere to go , he reminds me of it regularly. I've been waiting 9 weeks for this problem to end, what's another few days if it gives me some form of help.
Expert:  Wendy-Mod replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your patience. We will continue the search for a Professional for you.

Regards,
Wendy
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Hello,

How much money has the employer demanded?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
When the second cash drop went missing in my name. The manager walked up to me and told me the boss didn't take the money out of my check but wanted me to give my manager 100$ in cash to replace the second drop that went missing. Since I have never stolen from them I refused saying there is no proof I stole so why should I be punished. That I would call the board if I was punished for what I did not do. So my hours got cut and never went back up. Another employee had a drop go missing (they are all 100) and the manager was told to fire him immediately with no proof that he stole it. It was arranged that he DID pay them the 100 so he could keep his job even though he never stole. They demand money from us but refuse to sit and watch the cameras to find out who stole in the first place, as far as I know none have gone missing in a very long time but my hours remain the lowest of the staff despite being an employee who hasn't gotten any write ups or customer complaints compared to my coworkers who have.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
Okay, thanks for the info.

If you can get this other employee to agree to testify that the employer forced the employee to pay $100 out of a paycheck in order to keep his job, and if you can get a witness to confirm (or using a hidden tape recorder) that your supervisor will put you back on your original work schedule if you pay $100 to the employer, then that is a violation of Labor Code 221; 224 and Penal Code 518 (extortion).

This is actually a big deal. What you are describing is a criminal act by the employer. Even a $100 demand is a crime, because it's in exchange for the right to work. And, it's coercive, because it requires that you effectively admit to a wrongful act that you did not allegedly commit.

If you can get the evidence I describe, then you can complain to the DLSE (click here). You could also contact your county district attorney and/or the sheriff's white-collar crime unit. Since the amount of money is small, law enforcement may not be particularly interested -- but if they sense that this is a pattern of conduct by the employer, and other employees have been similarly penalized, then the employer could find himself charged with criminal extortion, and that may end this nonsense forever.

Additionally, you are protected under California law from retaliation by the employer, after you actually make a complaint to DLSE or any other law enforcement agency -- even if it turns out that there is no criminal violation of law. Cal. Labor Code 1102.5.

Hope this helps.



Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I know 100 isnt much but when you make as little as I do its a third of my pay check. He got mad because I threatened to call the board it became more over beating me down than the money i feel. A few weeks later he told me he was sure I wasn't stealing from him but my hours remained and still remain the lowest in the time I've worked here since training ended. If i offered him the money i doubt he would accept anymore. I don't think it's even about the money anymore it's just over showing how superior he is and how obedient we better be or else. It's like I'm a living example to keep other coworkers in line. There is no way without involving lawyers and court to get him to just simply let go of his grudge and give me the hours I had? I fully believe he deserves criminal charges. I don't remember the last time I got a pay stub given to me regularly from him so I can't even check the hours and money he does give me. I might get one for every few checks. But I fear this is going to result in less and less hours with him resting on his lie of its protecting me. It seems I have to go big and hope it works or just take him kicking me.
Expert:  socrateaser replied 1 year ago.
I can see you're really frazzled about all of this. I suggest that you try to calm down, and read my answer again, because what I've told you is the only answer -- other than to simply take the abuse, or quit your job.

And, to be sure, many, perhaps most employees choose to just take this sort of bad behavior from their employer, because they fear having no job.

That's something you'll have to decide for yourself.

What I've explained is the legal means of your getting control over the situation. The result may not be great. Usually, when an employee gains the legal upper hand over an employer, the employer continues to treat the employee poorly, and another legal action follows for retaliation (which is a separate complaint). After, that the employee has a job, but no one will talk to the employee, because everyone is afraid that if they show support, the employer will simply fire them.

The final outcome is almost always that the employee quits -- frequently with some money that wasn't expected, but not enough to change your life so that you don't need a new job.

Anyway, you'll have to make a choice about whether or not you choose to "go big" (using your phrase), or to just shut up and take it.

All I can do is explain your options, and that I have done.

Happy Holidays.

socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 34674
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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socrateaser
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Retired (mostly)