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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12789
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I have been working law firm 14 years. I was recently

Customer Question

I have been working for a law firm for almost 14 years. I was recently terminated for taking too much PTO time to take care of my terminally ill father and then take care of funeral arrangements when he passed. I originally asked if I needed to submit FMLA paperwork but was told I had plenty of PTO time to use as needed. A week after my father's funeral, I received a phone call from the mamaging partner of the law firm saying that I was being terminated because I had taken too much time off and my leave wasn't handled correctly. He then told me that I would be receiving a letter with details regarding severence and my last paycheck. It has been more than 72 hours and I have yet to receive either the letter or paycheck. What recourse do I have? I also have not been able to pickup my personal belongings.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

Good evening and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am so sorry to hear about your loss and the fact that you have been let go. Can you please tell me whether your employer has more than 50 employees where you work?

I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Less than 50.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Thank you. In that case I'm afraid to say that the only law that would have protected your employment (the Family Medical Leave Act) does not apply. Since employment in AZ is otherwise "at will," you can be terminated for taking too much time off to care for a dying relative, even if doing so is completely unfair and morally wrong.
As far as your final wages are concerned, Arizona Rev. Stat. 23-353 mandates that an employer pay an employee's final earned wages within the earlier of 7 days after the employee is let go or the next regularly scheduled pay period. If your final wages are not paid within that time frame and the amount is less than $5,000, you can file a wage claim with the AZ Labor Board (the Labor Board max is $5,000). If the amount is more, you will need to file a lawsuit in civil court.
As far as your belongings are concerned, I can't imagine that your former employer will not return those to you or allow you to pick them up, especially since they are a law firm. However, if they don't, you cn contact the police since their actions would constitute the criminal act of conversion. You could also sue in civil court for the items' return. Typically, it would be best to send a letter via certified mail threatening these remedies before pursuing them. Your former employer has nothing to gain by keeping your personal belongings and so this threat will likely cause them to act.
I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.
If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.