You have raised many legal issues in your post...far to complex to be able to address in a general public forum. Based on what you have stated, this employer has already violated several laws and there are ways this should be addressed. The most obvious is not to agree to anything without seeing a lawyer and certainly never allow your car to be used as collateral. It is likely, your employer owes you more than you owe it, based on what you have written. You also have a legal right to all documents you have signed relating to your employment.
You should consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys, for advice and direction, as soon as possible.
They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
I strongly urge you to contact an employment law attorney. There are many issues you have raised. It is unlawful for your employer to fire you because you refused to do something unlawful. I can't imagine that you would be required by contract or anything else to give the company your car. Also, upon being fired, your employer must pay your final wages that day. If not, they incur one day's waiting time penalties - up to 30 days PLUS attorneys' fees. Many of us employment law attorneys not only offer a free intitial phone consultation but take these cases on a contingent fee matter - meaning we get paid from your former employer. 949-481-6909.
You may well have a claim against your former employer.
Employers cannot discharge or discipline employees who refuse to break the law. It seems clear that hacking into someone's data base in order to avoid paying for information is illegal.
It is also improper for a California employer to let you go without giving you your final pay that very same day.
You need to speak with a plaintiff-side labor lawyer to discuss your remedies and how you can proceed.
Best of luck to you.
I agree with my colleagues. I just want to supplement.
Mr. Kirschbaum is correct about this being somewhat complex. Whether or not the former employer has a right to seek the relocation money paid to you for breach of contract involves more than simply employment law. It is really a contract issue, meaning did the employer's conduct in trying to force you to do something illegal and immoral constitute a material breach of the relocation agreement such that you would be relieved of your obligations to repay the money under the agreement. You would still have to defeat a claim that you were unjustly enriched by the ability to hold on to the money given to you under clear and uncertain terms that required you to stay for a certain period of time.
On the employment law front, your termination appears to be a wrongful termination in violation of the public policy of the state. Of course the battle will be over whether you were terminated because you were "disinterested in the work" or because your employer was upset that you revealed his immoral and illegal scheme to the recruiter.
If you can prove what you stated in your post, whether or not you have some kind of duty to repay the relocation funds, there is probably a significant enough claim to make that relocation money is easily offset by your losses incurred by their other wrongful conduct.
Locate and consult with one or more local employment law attorneys. Find one you like and are comfortable with. Provide him or her with all of the facts and learn about your options.
Good luck to you.
Pedersen McQueen, APLC is an Irvine, California law firm assisting clients in all Southern California counties.
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