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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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We have had employee problems (injuries, bounced checks, UPS

Customer Question

We have had employee problems (injuries, bounced checks, UPS packages disappearing, etc) with 2 employees and today we had a random drug test (announced and signed off by all employees a month ago) and 2 employees did not show up. Our concern is that one of these employees may be communicating with one of our elder customers who may be vulnerable to elder abuse.
My father-in-law has been in this family owned business (started by 3 brothers, but 2 have died) for 48 years and he had cancer 2 years ago and had to have his vocal cords removed. The business has been losing money for the past 4 years when my wife's sister called and said she "needed help with dad" (the owner) so we moved from Irvine, CA to Bakersfield, CA to help him out. We have been very busy repairing roofs, office machines, equipment, etc and so even though we've been here for a year, we just started implementing sound business practices (like drug testing etc.)
There were 2 full time employees when we got here and the second one handed us back her keys and company cell phone today after she punched out and left 2 minutes after the drug test guys arrived. BTW - the first employee had been here for 13 years and quit a few months ago when we discovered he was loafing around a lot and started managing him (checking on him regularly, catching him napping, using the truck for personal errands, etc.) He came back a couple times asking for his job back after he failed a driver's test and could not get hired at his new job but we declined. Several of our customers called to tell us to hire him back (which means he was forming relations behind the scenes) and we know this employee that quit today was also communicating with the same customers.
We have a 3rd part-time employee that was badly injured the day he was hired Oct 31, 2012 (broken ribs and a punctured lung when he fell off a ladder). Our workers comp covered him for his injuries and everything was settled amicably (insurance just paid all medical bills and for time missed) and Insurance case closed by Jan 2013... but this employee seemed to be getting access to his files, our warehouse, tools and vehicles from the woman that just quit today (she was alone here a lot because she was the one that unlocked in the mornings). He said he would be in today at 10:30 and never showed (we suspect because the woman told him we were drug testing when she bolted today). He has been very unreliable (says he's coming in in a couple hours and never shows up at least 6 times) and has admitted that he would probably not pass a drug test because he smokes pot.

Now for the question: We believe my father-in-law was taken advantage of by these 2 employees during the year he had cancer and was hospitalized and recovering (getting paid but not working) but have no proof and we are concerned they may be preying on some of our older customers they've established relations with. I recently had to call social workers in Florida and report elder abuse to stop people from preying on my aging parents in Miami, but have heard California is VERY defensive of it's employees, so need to be careful proceeding here.
Although my wife and I are taking over the company(s). We have limited documentation of the difficulties we've had with these employees and have very few formal written warnings signed by employees. What can we do to protect our customers and ourselves regarding these potentially trouble making ex-employees?
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

California is an at-will state, just like Florida, meaning that an employee can be termianted at any time for any reason with or without any prior notice.

There is nothing that the employees could do if you go after them for elder abuse.

Unfortunately, however, since non-compete agreements are illegal in California, there's really nothing you can do to prevent the older customers from continuing to use the ex-employees after they are teriminated.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any follow up questions.
Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.
Please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work!

Thanks and best of luck!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Joseph, thank you for your patience.

My question was what CAN we do now to create closure with the employees that have just quit but not cleanly?


Last Monday we had a random drug test and:

1 - one employee walked out before she could be tested and when we went over to her apartment (300 feet away - which we rent to her) she handed us her keys and phone, but never said she quit, just says she can't handle all that's being asked of her. She has some company garden equipment at her apartment she was using to do landscaping, but we've hired someone else to do that.

2 - The other was supposed to show up the day we had a random drug test and never did and so if they do, we are supposed to march them over to the local testing lab the second they walk in the door. This employee called up a week ago and said (slurred speech) they were hiring an attorney because we should have given them a truck as part of their severance. He keeps saying he will be in in a few hours but never shows up and has some personal items in our warehouse (paint guns, rollers, brushes) that they own personally, and is claiming we have one of their photo albums.

We have already hired people to replace them, but aren't sure how to create closure AND we want to avoid a class action suit because all 3 of our recent employees that have quit are in cahoots (having affairs with each other and taking drugs).


Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.
Hello Greg,

There ar NO grounds for any class action suit against you, so you really have nothing to worry about.

You also don't need to do anything to clean up the way things were left by your employees.

However, if you want closure, you can send the ones who left a notification that they are considered to have abandoned their jobs and quit since they have failed to show up to work.

If the second employee doesn't show up to claim his stuff within a month, after you have informed him that he can pick it up, you can dispose of it in any way you want, through selling it or just throwing it out.
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
Joseph and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Joseph,

I can post this as a new question if necessary, but it's related to the question you already answered so I did not want to type all the history again:

This same employee (that clocked out 2 minutes after drug testers showed up) just filed for unemployment citing her reason for separation DUE TO CIRCUMSTANCES BEYOND MY CONTROL NEW FAMILY MANAGEMENT AND I HAVE A CONFLICT OF INTEREST.

Even though she abandoned her job the day of the drug test 2 weeks ago and has not returned, the owner of the business (my father-in-law) wants to support her as much as possible so he says not to do anything. On the EDD claim form it says we have 10 days to respond and the only reason we wouldn't is if we don't have work for her. Are we required to respond?

Expert:  Joseph replied 3 years ago.
Hello Greg,

This is technically a new question so could you please open it in a new window? I will answer you shortly.

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