I worked on November 10 and 11 and i was told not to return the following day. I kept asking where I was suppose to report to work the following day and continued to do so for about a week until i finally heard from co workers and office staff that there was a rumor going around that I had stole from the company. I have tried numerous times to contact the vice president or the president of the company to clarify but was shut down. At the same time I would call I would ask about my two days worked pay check and they would tell me at the office not to keep calling. I finally spoke to a human resource and she helped me i just got payed December 12 and they continue not to give me work. I have a new job now but I am worried that those rumors will follow me to my new jobI spoke to a Health and Safety officer from this company and he verified that indeed there are rumors going around that I stole from the company.I recorded my conversations with the safety officer and with the office staff telling me not to call them back anymore. My questions is can they spread rumors like that where it can affect my recent job if it gets around? And are they allowed to take that long to pay me for the days I worked??? It took a month to get paid.
You raise several issues.
First, the employer can put you on indefinite suspension while it looks into claims that you stole from the company. It does not even have to tell you that is what it is doing, and it need not tell you how long you will remain in that position. It is also fully acceptable for the employer to simply decide to no longer schedule you to work.
Next, once the decision was made to terminate you, the employer was required to pay you all money owed to you on the day you were terminated. Your situation offers a difficult situation because it is hard to define when your suspension ended and your termination occurred. A good attorney may well be able to argue the termination did not occur until the day it was communicated to you that you were no longer employed at the company. Your retort would be that termination occurred on the day the company decided to take you off the schedule and never put you back on. It is complicated.
An employer who willfully withholds a final paycheck from an employee on the day he is terminated is subject to penalties to be paid to the employee in the amount of one day of pay for each day you are forced to wait for your final check, up to a total of 30 days of additional pay.
As to the rumors, first you would have to establish that it was untrue. If you were, in fact, terminated because the employer believed you stole from it, that is not an untrue statement, even if you could later prove the employer was mistaken.
Generally employers avoid communicating that kind of information to future prospective employers, so you probably are okay. However, again, if the employer terminated you for that reason, whether it was erroneous or not, telling someone else that is why they made their decision is not untruthful. You have a very hard, uphill battle on your hand to prove the employer is knowingly making false statements and that those statements are not privileged.
Good luck to you.
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Your employer's comments may give rise to a claim for defamation if they are false.
However, I caution you regarding the recording of private conversations. California's wiretapping law requires that all parties to the communication consent to the recording. Under California Penal Code Section 632 it is a crime to record or eavesdrop on any confidential communication, which includes private conversations or telephone calls, without the consent of all parties to the conversation.
Matthew P. Blair
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You probably should speak with an employment law attorney.
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