I was working as a companion/caregiver for this woman's brother and father getting paid on a 1099 through an accounting company. The brother was taken to the hospital as he kept getting sicker. The daughter/sister came over to their house and wanted all of the brother's guns to take to a friend of hers in another city in Oklahoma. We had taken the guns home once before and my husband cleaned them for the brother. She had said she was going to take the guns to her friend earlier and we took the guns back to their house and put them in the brother's truck so she could get them. The first time we brought the guns home, I think we brought 7 home and we returned all of those to the brother's truck. The daughter/sister did not take the guns to her friend that time. I was responsible for taking the brother to his doctor's appointments in different cities and did not want to transport the guns around with me in his truck, so again I moved them to our vehicle and then when the brother's truck broke down and I had to transport the brother to the doctors in my own personal vehicle, I took the guns to my house again, but this time there were only 6 rifles. That is what we returned to the daughter/sister (my employer) when the brother was taken to the hospital. Remember, the guns belong to the brother, not the daughter/sister/employer. She assumes that because we only returned the 6 guns that we took home the second time, that I have stolen the one rifle that could not be found. The father has Alzeimher's and cannot remember much, but he told her that he did not have a rifle at their house. Anyway, the daughter terminated my employment because the rifle came up missing and then has decided to hold my wages until the rifle shows back up. My question is twofold: 1. Can she terminate me without proof that I was the person who took the rifle? I do not steal from people, nor do I lie to people. and 2. Can she withhold my wages over a gun that does not even belong to her? and if so, for how long? What recourse do I have to get my wages paid to me, so that I no longer have to deal with these crazy people? Thanks, XXXXX XXXXX
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I am sorry to hear about your situation. It's sad when there are employers that automatically assume the worst.
Per your questions:
1. Can she terminate me without proof that I was the person who took the rifle? - Unfortunately, yes, she can. Oklahoma is an at will employment state. At-will employment means that without a contract, you have no contractual or other right to employment with the company. The company is entitled to fire you for any reason: a good reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all--as long as the company does not fire you for an illegal reason (race, gender, age, religion, etc...). But it extends beyond firing, to hiring, promotions, demotions, wage cuts and raises, disciplinary actions, and even scheduling. Unless you can show that this was done in violation of a contract, union agreement, or a clear violation of an unambiguous and binding clause against the employer, or that it was done because of some minority status (age, race, gender, religion, disability) that you have, then they do have this discretion.
So even if it is completely meritless, or based on hearsay, assumptions, etc..., this is absolutely a basis that she can terminate you on. She doesn't even have to have a good reason (unless your contract specifically says that she does).
2. Can she withhold my wages over a gun that does not even belong to her? and if so, for how long? - As a 1099, rather than W2, employee, you don't have the same rights as a regular W2 employee. However, this is not a valid basis to withhold wages. You can sue her if she fails to pay when she's supposed to pay.
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