What legal actions do I have as an employee to get my last 2 paychecks?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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What legal actions do I have as an employee to get my last 2 paychecks?

I was fired last week. When I went in to get my second to last paycheck, my employer said that I could take my

paycheck but he would turn me in for receiving stolen property. He then said that if I just walked away he wouldn’t

call the police. He showed me his proof which is a video of another employee handing me food. Someone ordered

something and then left without paying and it was going to be thrown away, so they gave it to me instead. Is that enough proof for me to be charged or should I get my paycheck and fight this?

Asked on June 4, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Whether or not you could be charged based on the video depends on what the other employer will or would say: will he state that the food was going to be thrown away anyway and that he gave it to you instead? Or will he say that you took food which was not about to be discarded, taking food from the employer? The video shows you with food; but its why and how you had the food that is critical, since it is intention that determines if an act is criminal. (Example: if you and I have look-alike bags and I pick up yours by accident, thinking it is mine, that is not theft; but if know it's not my bag when pick it up, it is theft.)
As to the paychecks: if you choose to pursue them, the most straightforward, fastest, and cost-effective way to proceed would be to sue the employer for the checks in small claims court, as your own attorney. You would sue base on "breach of contract," or violation of the agreement (even if only an oral or unwritten one) pursuant to which you worked in exchange for pay. You held up your end of the agreement and did the work; now the employer must hold up its end and pay you.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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