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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 116829
Experience:  20+ Years of Employment Law Experience
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I got terminated from a restaurant because I discovered the

Customer Question

I got terminated from a restaurant because I discovered the POS system has a feature that is checked 'holding cash sales' or 'not holding cash sales. But only managerial access would know this feature. A role i was not in. Nor anyone but the owners. Or so I thought. I discovered after a lunch shift that even after holding my own personal bank of $40 and accumulating $160 within my shift, that when my report was printed and the House owed me? It didn't add up or make sense. No way I made that in a lunch shift. I called over a co worker who had managerial access, who discovered, right in front of me, that this "holding cash sales' , 'not holding cash sales' feature even existed. She was frantic and even disclosed to me that this was a problem, that it looks like the system may have been updated and things were not reset back and that I wasn't the only employee this has happened to, that there were employees not working there anymore that had this feature set. She said there is nothing we can do about it now, 'just move forward' (she repeated that a lot). So my boss was bleeding money without knowing. I went directly to him the next day and told him. He was so calm. I mean I lost sleep over finding this out and he was 'ho hum' ?!?! He responded by asking me to pay him back. I said to him that he needs someone in place looking out for this, checking reports, keeping tabs......he said he is the manager. I expressed my disappointment in management. I use to be in management myself. ive never ever come across something like this in my professional career. He avoided me for a week. His wife came in the next Saturday to serve the lunch shift with me, after working with her for 4 Hrs. she pulls me aside while I still have a table, questions my integrity and told me she couldn't believe I didn't catch it. Oh I wish I had. Myself and, I don't know who else, were taking home money that wasn't ours and we didn't even know it. I told her I went straight to her husband and told him about it. she got upset because I called her husband a bad manager, when in actuality I said that I was very disappointed in management. She asks me what I thought was fair. I told her, the same I told her husband the week prior. Speaking without knowledge of whats owed to who is impossible. Mentioned payments through pay checks, L&I, she got freaked and fired me right there and called me a thief!!!! in front of staff! I have never been in this situation, ever! and I am not a thief. What do I do?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.

Unfortunately, the employer typically has a legal right to terminate any at will employee for any reason at all or for no reason as long as the only reason is not based on your age/race/sex/disability/national origin. In this case, I do not understand how they were upset with you finding out they had a computer issue that was costing them money, it was not your job to catch it as they think, it was the employer's duty to check it.

However, the problem is that they could still terminate you for this, since you did receive money through their error that you should not have received, there is a legal theory that is called "unjust enrichment" which would allow them to claim you did owe them money back, even if this was from their own error, but in cases where it is their error you did not steal anything and they could allow you to repay any over payment you received, but terminating you for stealing is a wrongful termination and at this point you need to consider getting a local attorney to pursue the employer for wrongfully defaming you calling you a thief.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Thankyou. Now what do I do? My old boss is texting (yeah, texting) asking for me to pay it back. Also asking me if he should hold my check? Well now I know legally he cant do that. I have not responded. My confliction is, I know now, that that money was never mine or the other servers. I offered to have a percentage taken out of each check to get him his money back, but his wife terminated me. I cant speak for the other servers, but my money was spent on bills. What is he doing as far as the other staff? Am I in danger of a lawsuit? Do I pay him back for his mistake? Do I meet him halfway, so he doesn't slander me? Or do I get a lawyer I cant afford to fight this ridiculousness? Help.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your reply.

He cannot legally hold your check unless you agree to him in writing to do so. You need to reply that you are and always were willing to make payments to him for any over payment that came from his mistake, but were fired before you could do so despite you being the one who discovered the errors. Tell him that you were improperly terminated and also defamed in retaliation for reporting your discovery to him and you are willing to negotiate with him to return to work and have him take a small percentage of your pay when you return, but if he refuses, then he is going to force you to get a local attorney and you do not want to do that when you have been actually trying to look out for his business all along and not hurt his business.

If he keeps up refusing to negotiate, then you have no choice but getting a lawyer, perhaps legal aid if you cannot afford one, and seek to enforce your rights for the defamation and for terminating you for reporting this, which is really against public policy as it encourages employees to be dishonest about getting overpayments.

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