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Can I sue my boss for firing me?

Monterey, CA |

Hello my name is Alice and I have a question! Can I sue to get my money back when I was falsely accused of stealing money from the cash register? My boss and her sister touches the cash register as well and they make me pay instead of splitting it into threes when my boss makes a lot of mistakes with money. The first time money was missing she brought me the tickets to add the totals up to confirm that the money was missing, and I asked her to split the missing money because it's not fair and no one knows which one of us made the mistake and she said to me, I am the owner therefore I do not make mistakes. But the other girl that works there they split the missing money with her into threes and sonetimes four according to who has access to the cash register. The second time she claimed money was missing she didn't even show me the tickets or the credit card tickets. She just took the money out of my paycheck. She has cameras set up to see that I didn't steal the money. Recently, she claimed that there was money missing when I work and I asked her to see the tickets and she never brought it to me and a couple days after she fired me without proof for stealing money. I have talked to the other girl and according to her there has been money missing many more times with her than me and she never got fired. And I have also heard that many girls in my position get fired for stealing money so it might just be the owners mistake because when she is overwhelmed and busy she makes lots of mistakes that I catch and correct. I have paid for the missing money everytime without splitting it everytime she claimed that money was missing.

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Attorney answers 3


Your employer cannot make you pay for these cash losses and it must reimburse you for the money it already made you pay. It will also be on the hook for penalties and interest, all of which can add up to an amount of money that makes it very worthwhile to pursue a claim.

The courts and legislature understood that mistakes are inevitable, and the employer is in a better position to absorb the loss than is the employee. An employer cannot make the employee into an insurer of the employer’s business.

In Kerr’s Catering Service v. Department of Industrial Relations, 57 Cal. 2d 319 (1962), the California Supreme Court stated that “some cash shortages, breakage and loss of equipment are inevitable in almost any business operation. It does not seem unjust to require the employer to bear such losses as expenses of management when it is presently the unchallenged practice to require him to bear, as a business expense, the cost of tools and equipment, protective garments and uniforms furnished to the employee . . . . ”

“Furthermore, the employer may, and usually does, either pass these costs on to the consumer in the form of higher prices or lower his employees’ wages proportionately, thus distributing the losses among a wide group. In addition, the employer is free to discharge any employee whose carelessness causes the losses . . . .”

In addition, California Labor Code sections 2800 and 2802 require an employer to indemnify an employee for expenses and losses incurred on the job:

2800. An employer shall in all cases indemnify his employee for losses caused by the employer’s want of ordinary care.

2802. (a) An employer shall indemnify his or her employee for all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of his or her duties, or of his or her obedience to the directions of the employer, even though unlawful, unless the employee, at the time of obeying the directions, believed them to be unlawful.

However, an employer has the right to discipline an employee for mistakes on the job, all the way up to firing the employee. And the employer can do so even if the employer is incorrect in its belief the employee mishandled (or stole) money.

You can get your money back by filing a claim with the DLSE. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) is a sub-agency within the California Department of Industrial Relations. Some people refer to the DLSE as the Labor Commissioner. The DLSE enforces California's wage and hour laws, including those pertaining to overtime, rest and meal breaks, and more. The link for information on filing a wage claim is here: There is no charge for making this claim.

Also, go ahead and file for unemployment. Your employer may oppose your claim by saying yo stole money and at first, your claim for unemployment might be denied. If so, you will have 20 days to appeal that denial. Do not miss the deadline! Information on how to appeal will be on the notice you receive saying our claim was denied. You will get a notice in a few weeks of a hearing before an administrative law judge; you can explain to the administrative law judge that you did not steal any money and many other people had access to the cash drawer. Say you did the best you could and tried not to make any mistakes. If you made mistakes, they were certainly not done on purpose.

I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***


I agree with the previous answer. You should definitely speak to a California employment law attorney regarding your rights.


Absolutely! Go see an attorney right away. Many attorneys would/could handle this. You should determine the amount of money that has been taken out of your paycheck. You may also file a claim with the Labor Relations Board.

This is my opinion and should not be construed as legal advise for your specific case as there are many more facts which you have not provided.

Marilynn Mika Spencer

Marilynn Mika Spencer


Ms. Costanzo is probably referring to the California Labor Commissioner, also known as the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. I provided a link to file a DLSE claim in my separate answer. The National Labor Relations Board is a federal agency that only handles union-employer issues or union-union member issues.