What should I do about being accused of theft at work?

Q: My manager accused me of stealing $96 from a server and showed me the video. It doesn’t show me taking any money. She told me to empty my pockets and there was nothing in my pockets besides $50 from payday on Thursday. She is bi-polar and an alcoholic. (Robinson Twp., PA)

A: If you are telling the truth I would fight this and ask to speak to the owner or anyone above the manager. However, PA is an at will employment state and you can therefore be fired for any reason at all unless the reason is based on a protected class such as race, gender, sexual preference, age, disability, etc. You may want to speak with an employment discrimination lawyer.

Can I sue for owner for giving me less tables to serve?

Q: he owners of the restaurant are the hostesses and they constantly give one particular server the best section and the most tables. The one owner always puts me in the worst section and my sales end up being lower than everyone else. They are usually more than half less than the server that they seat all the time. I feel that she is discriminating against me for a few reasons. Can I sue? (Cranberry Twp., PA)

A: It depends on what reason you are discriminated against and how good your proof is. If you are a member of a protected class of people such as women, those over 40, national origin, color, race, disabled, military veteran, married, religion, etc., and you can prove that you are treated differently, you might have a case. I would call an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination for a more thorough answer.

Do I have a right to get copies of all emails relating to an incident at work?

Q: I work at an electronics company and I reached into a box of parts and there was a syringe with a sharp needle on it. I phoned my supervisor and left a message about what happened. I work the graveyard shift. I said I what happened and for him and another employee to look into it. When I came in the next day he was by himself. I asked where is Vicky. He said he would get the vice president of the company involved. I came back, and he said that we had to write an incident report on it and they will look into it at their next safety meeting. I was really mad because other employees have been giving me a hard time and I have talked to him about it and he does very little to help me. I took the box and needle and walked out. I was frustrated with his lack of concern for my safety. I told him I was done with all the stuff they were doing to me and to talk to my attorney. I left, and they kept calling me on my way home. I finally talked to the VP about some of the things other people were doing to me. He told me to take the night off and bring the box and needle back on Monday. Now I would like copies of all emails to see if they really were being truthful to me. (Blawnox, PA)

A: I assume you are talking about what appears to be a used hypodermic needle. If you were punctured by the needle I would not return the box to your employer until you can verify that you are medically safe. Take the box and needle to an employment attorney. He or she should advise you to have the needle tested by a lab for any infectious disease. This will verify if your health has been jeopardized. You are likely on thin ice with your employer. PA is an “at will” employment sate and you can be fired for any reason other than sex, age, race and religion. Even if you were not injured by the needle, this will be the only evidence you have to contest your application for unemployment compensation if you are fired and you apply. It also may provide some basis for a wrongful termination suit, perhaps under whistle blower laws, but you need to confirm that with an attorney who practices in that area. In regard to emails your company has issued and maintained, you have no right to them, unless you can independently get copies from your computer or smart phone or another person’s devices. If litigation would start, your attorney can file under discovery rules for them or subpoena them

Employer won’t pay me!

Q: I contacted my past employer for unpaid wages. It’s been a month and I’ve sent a letter demanding pay. The manager stated it has been mailed multiple times in the past but I still have not received the check. This has not only led to me not getting paid for the holiday season. I was also delinquent and fined for not paying contractually obligated payments due to not having the funds in the bank. Is there any legal recourse I can take to not only get my original check but compensation for delinquency? (Greentree, PA)

A:  An attorney would need more facts to determine if the employer’s actions rise to the level needed for them to be civilly liable for late payments. If you are still not paid, contact the PA Department of Labor and Industry, Wage and Hour division. They can do everything from giving you advice to filing a claim against the employer for you.

Can boss not pay me for a paid holiday?

Q: Can my boss tell me I’m not eligible for a paid holiday when everyone else who worked that week got paid for it? I don’t get holiday pay even though I always had holiday pay. He said I am still getting sick time and vacation pay. Can he do this? I am the only employee that isn’t getting holiday pay.

A: If you have no organized labor protection, you have very few rights as an employee in PA unless there is a violation of federal law such as racial, sexual or age discrimination. The Commonwealth of PA Department of Labor and Industry, Wage and Hour division can provide help to an employee who is not paid by their employer for work done. Look in the phone book or on line for a phone number. Perhaps they can at least give you advice.

Employer paid me too much

Q:  My employer put extra money on my paycheck for some unknown reason. What should you do? Should I contact a lawyer? (White Oak, PA)

A: Ask him why. If it is a reward for good work, accept it and say thank you. If it is a mistake, it will eventually be detected and withdrawn from your pay. Telling your employer will make you look better. I don’t think you need a lawyer.

Defamation – Slander per-se? Do I have a case?

A: A co-worker of mine spread a nasty rumor at work that I have a loathsome disease, which is not true. She also keeps talking about my breast augmentation, to other workers and our clients. I am experiencing such distress. What are the steps I need to do to take action? Thank you.

A: You need to prove that she said this (liability) and damages that you have suffered. Your damages need to be quantifiable, meaning you may need to prove that you treated and incurred costs of therapy or suffered some type of measurable damage to your image in the work environment or in the public eye. You may want to see if your employer has an option. If it is a bigger company, the HR department may mediate this and take action against the person. The only way to determine if you have a case is to sit down with a personal injury lawyer or employment lawyer and go over all of the facts.