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Patrick, Esq.
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Category: California Employment Law
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If my supervisor required me to provide her with my payroll password XXXXX then she used i

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If my supervisor required me to provide her with my payroll password XXXXX then she used it to commit fraud against the employer without my knowledge, am I liable for her crime?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question.

Virtually all California laws governing forgery begin by stating "Every person who, with the intent to defraud[i/]..." What this means is that an individual cannot be found guilty of fraud in criminal court unless he knowingly participated in the fraudulent scheme.

If you did not know and had no legitimate reason to know that your employer was committing fraud with your payroll password, then you would have a legitimate defense to a criminal allegation of fraud in the workplace. However, the prosecution could attempt to argue that your knowledge and consent can be presumed under the circumstances.

It is important to distinguish between the criminal investigation and the internal investigation of your employer. Your union rep is correct that "innocent until proven guilty" would apply only to a criminal case. Similarly, although in a criminal case the prosecution would need to prove "beyond a reasonable doubt" that you were guilty of fraud, your employer does not need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt to initiate disciplinary action against you.

This means that an employer would typically be free to suspend an employee without pay upon a reasonable belief that they had committed fraud, even if there is not enough evidence to prosecute you for that fraud in criminal court. Your employer must, however, comply with the procedure for discipline and initiating such suspension that is set forth in your collective bargaining agreement.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the very best of luck. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Please abide by the honor code of this website by kindly clicking on the GREEN ACCEPT button if my answer has been helpful to you. Thank you very much.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thank you. Would it be reasonable for me to ask for a letter of exhoneration?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Yes, that would be reasonable under the circumstances. Further, if an internal investigation revealed that you did not co-conspire to alter payroll records, this would likely assist you in mounting a criminal defense, in the unlikely event that criminal charges against you are filed.

I wish you the very best of luck, and please kindly remember to "accept" my answer if you have found it helpful. Thanks so much.
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