Legal Help?

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 8:39 pm
I need some legal advise. I don't suppose that anybody here would be willing to help me out, provide information or at least hear out my story, would they?

Sorry for the buffer, but it's a very long story and I didn't want to just post it hahaha.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:25 pm
Tarantism, please feel free to post your story my friend. I mean if you are comfortable with sharing then go for it. The off-topic section is here for just this purpose.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:25 pm
sorry i dont know anything about the law except, plead the fifth whenever you can. hope that helps.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:34 pm
bada wrote:Tarantism, please feel free to post your story my friend. I mean if you are comfortable with sharing then go for it. The off-topic section is here for just this purpose.


Thanks :)

Here goes:

I got fired from my job yesterday, November 3rd. But I was not fired under normal circumstances, however. My employment was terminated due to accusations of petty theft, a crime which I did not commit.

Before I continue I think it might be worth noting that I was employed by a family business…illegally. I was being paid in cash under the table because my employers did not want to pay taxes. This business was an independent coffee shop.

The day started like any normal work day would, with me arriving to work around 1:50 PM for my shift, which was supposed to last from 2-9 pm. Upon getting called in I was taken to the back room and cornered by my two bosses in front of a video monitor.

I had gotten disciplined a few days before due to the fact that I liked to "prime" my tip jar during my shift (meaning that I would change out all of the coins for bills so that I would get tipped more dollars throughout my shift). My bosses had called me on my previous shift saying that they did not pay me to prime the tip jar, that they did not care if I get tipped or not and that I should be spending the 3 minutes a day that I spent priming the tip jar cleaning their store.

I took it in stride and simply did the extra cleaning that they asked me to do. I did not prime the tip jar until I was on my own time on lunch.

So, fast forward to Tuesday where I am cornered in the back. One of my bosses, the wife, reiterated that she had talked to me Sunday about priming the tip jar. I replied that I had not done it after she had talked to me about. She interrupted me and said that I had been loading up the tip jar with THEIR CASH. They went on to show me a video from one of their security cameras which portrayed me helping a customer.

Now, at this coffee shop many of the regulars simply leave dollar bills on the counter if they are in the rush because the coffee is self-serve. In the aforementioned video I was busy with another customer when one of the regulars come in and left two dollars on the counter. I proceeded to complete my transaction with the other customer, after which I was tipped. Then, moving away to continue with my daily tasks, I picked up the two dollars left on the counter and dropped them in the tip jar. In the video, it is clear that I am not paying attention to what I am doing and simply mistook the two dollars as a tip.

My bosses played this video back for me three times. I said that it was clearly me making an absent minded mistake, and that I would be glad to pay back the two dollars mistakenly taken by me. They said that this has happened multiple times, and that they had it all on video. They went on to say that there was as much as 40-60 dollars missing from the register routinely after I closed the store. They said that I was cupping the bills to make it unclear how many 20's I was holding, and then somehow pocketing the bills. They also claimed that they had complete video evidence that proved beyond any doubt that I was a thief.

Then, logically, I demanded to see all the evidence that I was stealing from the register. My other boss, the husband, told me that they didn't have time to go through all the tape and that they had already been over it all with a police officer who had confirmed that I could be arrested due to petty theft. They both outlined my options from that point on: I could stay there and wait to be arrested by a police officer or I could write a statement describing what "crime" I had committed and then pay them restitution equaling to the sum of my last three days of employment there (totaling roughly $170).

I told them that any restitution that I paid would have to be calculated based on all visual evidence of the tape (which they still refused to let me see). I also repeated that I needed to see all of the supposed proof that they had that I was a thief. The proceeded to get in my face and swear and yell at me, placing as much pressure as possible on my to make a decision. Unfortunately this strategy worked, as in my shocked and disbelieving state I panicked and wrote out and signed the statement as directed by them. The statement reads as follows:

"I, (my name here), have agreed to pay (name of the business) my earnings for the final days of my employ here due to accusations of theft. I will not come back on their property. If I do come back onto any property owned by this cafe's ownership I will be arrested for trespassing."

After I had signed this, they directed me out of the store.

Now, I am not a thief and I know that. My question for anybody here who can help me is this: How can I attack these horrible people in court? What would be the best legal avenue for me to explore?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. I am sorry for writing a novel haha but details are important here. If anything is unclear then I can answer any and all questions.
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 04, 2009 9:50 pm
wow, sorry you are going through this man.

I am not a lawyer either but I would think you have a tough case here. If it is just that ONE video, then you could take your chances with the he said she said thing, but do you think it is possible you made this mistake multiple times and there really IS more video of this?

In today's day and age, video evidence is VERY compelling and the deck is stacked against you if they have video evidence... especially if they have multiple incidents recorded.

I am sure you know now that signing that statement was a very bad idea. If you are truly innocent (which I have no reason to believe you aren't), then signing an admission of guilt was a very bad idea. You would have to prove that you signed it under duress which I think would be hard to prove.

If you knew you were innocent, you should have loved the chance to have the police come and prove these false accusers wrong in front of a law enforcement officer.

At this point might just be better to walk away from it and just move on... however if you REALLY want to persue this, I could pass this on to a good friend who is a partner in a large law firm in LA. He specializes in labor law.

Or you could call a labor attorney and see what they think? Or there are legal advice websites where you can post this and see what type of responses you get.

Good luck!
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:34 am
Yeah, tough spot you're in, buddy.

First of all, keep in mind our legal system and the US one are really different, so what I'm gonna say may not be worth anything...

bada wrote:wow, sorry you are going through this man.

I am not a lawyer either but I would think you have a tough case here. If it is just that ONE video, then you could take your chances with the he said she said thing, but do you think it is possible you made this mistake multiple times and there really IS more video of this?

In today's day and age, video evidence is VERY compelling and the deck is stacked against you if they have video evidence... especially if they have multiple incidents recorded.


Of course, if they have multiple video evidence, you're better off forgetting any action against them.

But, if not...

bada wrote:I am sure you know now that signing that statement was a very bad idea. If you are truly innocent (which I have no reason to believe you aren't), then signing an admission of guilt was a very bad idea. You would have to prove that you signed it under duress which I think would be hard to prove.

If you knew you were innocent, you should have loved the chance to have the police come and prove these false accusers wrong in front of a law enforcement officer.


Agreed. Signing it was a very bad move, because, even tho it's evident you did it under duress, there's no easy way to prove it, as you were alone with them, with not witness or any other way to prove it other than your word.

bada wrote:At this point might just be better to walk away from it and just move on... however if you REALLY want to persue this, I could pass this on to a good friend who is a partner in a large law firm in LA. He specializes in labor law.


I don't think you can do anything under labor law regulations. I mean, there's no contract to protect, as you said you worked there illegally.

I see it more like a criminal case, based on your admission signed under duress and possibly demanding damages for slander.

I'd pass, because it's gonna be really difficult to prove and it may end up costing you a lot of cash just to pursue it, but if you're totally sure they don't have any more videos like that one, there's a chance, albeit a small one.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 12:45 am
I can pass this on as well to a friend of mine who is a lawyer. I'm not sure what she specializes in, though, but I will gladly pass it on to her.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 4:01 am
Man, sorry hear that youve had to go through this Tarantism.

Nothing I hate more in life than being accused of things I havnt done and people thinking ill of me when it isnt justified.

Well, as the big boys of the board have already said............I dont think you really have much to stand on from a legal perspective.

The video evidence, the fact that one of them does in fact show you putting "customer" money in the tip jar (although obviously, it was the honest mistake one) and the fact you signed this ridiculous, harrassment like statement.

I really dont think they consuted with a police officer on this, it just doesnt sound right to me that a police officer would committ to saying what they say the officer said..............but whatever.

Also, what did they say to the officer? "Ohh yeah, this guy works for us illegally and we think he is stealing, would you mind..........." Bull sh*t, no way they would put themselves at risk of being discoverd by inviting an officer in.

Finally, your in abit of a tight spot legally and rights wise because of the fact you, theoretically, werent employed by them!

Which brings me to my point, and the only angle of attack you have............especially if you are feeling that you want to get back at them in some way, especially since they have slandered you as TMC said.

IRS!!!! if they were/are employing you under the table, TO AVOID TAXES! then f*ck em!

All youve got to do is drop and annonymous tip like call to the IRS office...........something along the lines of:

"I am a concerned tax paying citizen who doesnt like seeing people taking advantage of employing people illegally, so as to avoid paying taxes"

"I dont wish to give my name because I am close to the persons in question"

"Thank for your time"


Thats how Id go after the bastards............the legal side would be costly for you and as far as I can see, wouldnt work.

However, have a think about this opportunity............the one that has been perfectly presented to you to of course to have all the knowledge of how it works!

Good luck bud. :wink:
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 8:15 am
bigstrads wrote:Which brings me to my point, and the only angle of attack you have............especially if you are feeling that you want to get back at them in some way, especially since they have slandered you as TMC said.

IRS!!!! if they were/are employing you under the table, TO AVOID TAXES! then f*ck em!

All youve got to do is drop and annonymous tip like call to the IRS office...........something along the lines of:

"I am a concerned tax paying citizen who doesnt like seeing people taking advantage of employing people illegally, so as to avoid paying taxes"

"I dont wish to give my name because I am close to the persons in question"

"Thank for your time"


Thats how Id go after the bastards............the legal side would be costly for you and as far as I can see, wouldnt work.

However, have a think about this opportunity............the one that has been perfectly presented to you to of course to have all the knowledge of how it works!

Good luck bud. :wink:


Only one but, bro... and that's that an anonymous source is not a valid one to start an investigation. I don't know if it's different in the US, but we have to discard anything coming from an anonymous source.

It doesn't apply to every possible case (like, for example, you can't ignore a call saying that somebody is being shot on the streets just because you don't know who the f*ck is calling), but you can't open an investigation based on such a source either. Let's say it's valid only in case of flagrant crimes that put like (or, at least, health) at risk.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:20 am
Tarantism, how old are you? Not that it really matters, but if you are young, 18 or under and you take legal action, that could really work in your favor. You could play up the point that you got bullied and you didnt know what to do when they cornered you. Age and ignorance definitely go hand in hand and the fact that you basically signed an admission of guilt could more easily be disregarded.

Also on the tax front, were you their only tax-free employee? You could contact the State Board of Equalization and report them for tax fraud....once again, if you are young, you could claim ignorance for you not paying taxes, because its your bad as well as theirs. If they have several under the table employees, that could be really bad news for their business.

One thing you do NOT want to do is go back to the cafe. If you do anything like that, its going to take away your other leg to stand on...your signed admission took away your first leg. Dont contact them about the video evidense or anything like that. Go about things in a completely legal way. Its possible that this mom and pop shop has had theft problems before, they may have over-reacted to what they "thought" they saw.

Another question I have for you, did you close the register yourself on the nights that you worked? If they said that the reg was regularly short, do you have any way of knowing if that was correct?

Hope everything works out for you man! Keep us informed.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 10:33 am
These people are out of their minds crazy. They need to spend more of their time cleaning their shop, and trying to get people through the door, not putting their employees through petty interrogations. Petty theft indeed.. Talk about petty... They are ****ing idiots! get yourself another job and move on.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 1:44 pm
Wow guys, I can't even tell you how much all of this feedback is appreciated. Seriously.


I am not a lawyer either but I would think you have a tough case here. If it is just that ONE video, then you could take your chances with the he said she said thing, but do you think it is possible you made this mistake multiple times and there really IS more video of this?


Well, see that is what I am afraid of. If for whatever reason I made more then one mistake like the one that I described in my last post, then I really have nothing to go on. However, I feel like that is pretty unlikely considering that I like to think that a majority of the time I am at least HALF paying attention. Besides, they accused me of other things besides that. They said that at the end of the night when I changed out my tips I was "cupping" (<-exact phrase they used) the bills so that the camera couldn't tell how many bills I was picking up. They said that I was doing the same thing with the 20's as well.

That is so ridiculous for one. Secondly, I was under the impression that all evidence that they had must be CONCLUSIVE for them to convict me in court. And that is not even considering that they used this supposed proof to corner me like vigilantes and basically fraudulently wrestle away my final checks.

I am sure you know now that signing that statement was a very bad idea. If you are truly innocent (which I have no reason to believe you aren't), then signing an admission of guilt was a very bad idea. You would have to prove that you signed it under duress which I think would be hard to prove.


Agreed. Signing it was a very bad move, because, even tho it's evident you did it under duress, there's no easy way to prove it, as you were alone with them, with not witness or any other way to prove it other than your word.


I know. I messed up real bad there but I have done some jail time in the past (for something else, though, not theft) and I am terrified of the cops now so I panicked. This I am ashamed of. Not only that but I made by case more difficult by an exponential amount.

As far as proving that I signed this under duress- the beautiful thing is that these people are paranoid freaks and they have a video camera recording in EVERY room, and four in the main store room. This means that they are ON TAPE yelling at me and cornering me in the back. I am not positive but I feel like that should make my case a little bit stronger.

I can pass this on as well to a friend of mine who is a lawyer. I'm not sure what she specializes in, though, but I will gladly pass it on to her.


If you could that would be fantastic. Thanks for even offering, same to everybody else who offered to do that for me. My biggest problems right now are trying to figure out whether or not this is worth pursuing and then where to start even looking into it.

Nothing I hate more in life than being accused of things I havnt done and people thinking ill of me when it isnt justified.


Absolutely agreed. Nothing angers me more as an honest man then to be told that I am dishonest. And I have never been a thief. They were telling me that they felt sorry for me because I had problems in the past which was infuriating. I used to be a drug addict but I didn't battle back from that and start leading a clean, honest life just to have these people talk down to me and tell me otherwise.

Sorry that was kind of a tangent. Moving on...

I really dont think they consuted with a police officer on this, it just doesnt sound right to me that a police officer would committ to saying what they say the officer said..............but whatever.

Also, what did they say to the officer? "Ohh yeah, this guy works for us illegally and we think he is stealing, would you mind..........." Bull sh*t, no way they would put themselves at risk of being discoverd by inviting an officer in.


That is a good point and it's something that I have been thinking about. I think that they were so sure that I was going to be afraid of them calling the cops so I wouldn't call their bluff...and it worked. To my everlasting regret haha. Besides, what would the officer do?? Yeah me might cuff me and perhaps take me to Main Jail in downtown (San Jose) and process me, but it's not like I am going to do major jail time for petty theft. All that would have happened is that I would have forced them to take the legal route and even if they did have real evidence, the judge would simply make them total up the damages and then proceed to make me pay them an EXACT AMOUNT...not some loose guess.

However, they wouldn't have done that because, as you said, they wouldn't want to risk it being discovered that I was employed illegally.

I wish I had been thinking straight. It's been driving me crazy. I think that most of the reason that I did what I did was because I panicked and I was so shocked that I had made the one mistake that they showed on video. I think that I was afraid that they would somehow have more.

But even then, there is no way that I could have done that enough to total over 150 dollars or even close to it. No way.

:banghead:

All youve got to do is drop and annonymous tip like call to the IRS office...........something along the lines of:

"I am a concerned tax paying citizen who doesnt like seeing people taking advantage of employing people illegally, so as to avoid paying taxes"

"I dont wish to give my name because I am close to the persons in question"

"Thank for your time"

Thats how Id go after the bastards............the legal side would be costly for you and as far as I can see, wouldnt work.


That's some advice that I got elsewhere as well. In my heart it feels wrong to be that spiteful but honestly I need to get back at these people to get some kind of solace.

It doesn't apply to every possible case (like, for example, you can't ignore a call saying that somebody is being shot on the streets just because you don't know who the f*ck is calling), but you can't open an investigation based on such a source either. Let's say it's valid only in case of flagrant crimes that put like (or, at least, health) at risk


One question that I have been wondering: would there be any kind of negative legal ramification on my end if I did report that I was getting paid under the table? How bad would the snapback be?

Tarantism, how old are you? Not that it really matters, but if you are young, 18 or under and you take legal action, that could really work in your favor. You could play up the point that you got bullied and you didnt know what to do when they cornered you. Age and ignorance definitely go hand in hand and the fact that you basically signed an admission of guilt could more easily be disregarded.


I am 21 years old, turning 22 in January.

Also on the tax front, were you their only tax-free employee? You could contact the State Board of Equalization and report them for tax fraud....once again, if you are young, you could claim ignorance for you not paying taxes, because its your bad as well as theirs. If they have several under the table employees, that could be really bad news for their business.


I am not positive, but I have good reason to believe that there are two other employees there paid under the table. Their daughter works there, too, and I don't think that she gets paid normally but I also don't know if that is illegally. If he is also then that would make four including me.

One that that was mentioned to me: somebody said that these people have pretty obvious financial troubles and that they are likely keeping very shady books. They could be simply trying to explain away an discrepancies by blaming all of them directly on me.

I feel like the way that I wrote that doesn't make sense, but I hope somebody gets my point. If not I will try to reword.

One thing you do NOT want to do is go back to the cafe. If you do anything like that, its going to take away your other leg to stand on...your signed admission took away your first leg. Dont contact them about the video evidense or anything like that. Go about things in a completely legal way. Its possible that this mom and pop shop has had theft problems before, they may have over-reacted to what they "thought" they saw.


Somebody told me that I should not call them, and I agree with you both. That same person said that I should have whatever legal representation (if I choose to seek any) I get ought to be the only ones that contact them regarding any action that I decide to take against them. Would you agree that this is a good idea?

Another question I have for you, did you close the register yourself on the nights that you worked? If they said that the reg was regularly short, do you have any way of knowing if that was correct?


At night it was my job to close out the register, and my responsibility to print out a receipt when I did so. However, I did no bookkeeping for them nor did I count or balance anything out for them at night. I do know that they save all of those receipts, though, so maybe that can work in my favor.

These people are out of their minds crazy. They need to spend more of their time cleaning their shop, and trying to get people through the door, not putting their employees through petty interrogations. Petty theft indeed.. Talk about petty... They are ****ing idiots! get yourself another job and move on.


:D

Thanks again everybody. I really can't even tell you how much I need this advice and help. :D :D :D :D
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 2:40 pm
Tarantism wrote:I know. I messed up real bad there but I have done some jail time in the past (for something else, though, not theft) and I am terrified of the cops now so I panicked. This I am ashamed of. Not only that but I made by case more difficult by an exponential amount.


This is gonna sound really bad, but if you have a previous record (no matter if it's not theft), I'd drop it already.

I'm just saying because judges are usually a bit biased against people with a previous criminal record, no matter about what.

I'm not saying they're not gonna rule according to your side if there's enough evidence, tho. But you'd need a strong case to not be dismissed.

Tarantism wrote:As far as proving that I signed this under duress- the beautiful thing is that these people are paranoid freaks and they have a video camera recording in EVERY room, and four in the main store room. This means that they are ON TAPE yelling at me and cornering me in the back. I am not positive but I feel like that should make my case a little bit stronger.


Well, that would change a lot the landscape... but they probably won't keep those tapes, man.

But if they do AND you find a way to put them into the case (easier said than done, as first you'll have to prove they're relevant and second, the judge will have to admit that kind of evidence, and you might be surprised at how many times indirect evidence like that gets rejected just because they have alot more work to do than to stop in every single detail of each case... of course, each judge is a different person, so there's also the luck factor).


Tarantism wrote:One question that I have been wondering: would there be any kind of negative legal ramification on my end if I did report that I was getting paid under the table? How bad would the snapback be?


I'm not sure. On one side, I hate labor law. I just don't care that much about it, so I tend to ignore anything regarding it. And, anyways, all I know is based on our own law, not the US one, so I can't help you at all there.

I'm gonna make a guess, tho, and that's that you'd get fined (as far as the amount, I can't even make a guess), but those f*ckers of the cafe would get the worst part.

Tarantism wrote:
One thing you do NOT want to do is go back to the cafe. If you do anything like that, its going to take away your other leg to stand on...your signed admission took away your first leg. Dont contact them about the video evidense or anything like that. Go about things in a completely legal way. Its possible that this mom and pop shop has had theft problems before, they may have over-reacted to what they "thought" they saw.


Somebody told me that I should not call them, and I agree with you both. That same person said that I should have whatever legal representation (if I choose to seek any) I get ought to be the only ones that contact them regarding any action that I decide to take against them. Would you agree that this is a good idea?


Yeah, I also agree that you shouldn't be close to that place for a while (a loooong while).

As far as having legal representation... well, I don't think they're gonna do anything else right now, as they got what they wanted once you signed the statement. So it's up to you. It's never a bad thing to at least talk to a lawyer and check if it's worth pursuing legal action against them. After that, you'll have to decide if you really want representation or not.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:00 pm
Honestly dude, just walk. You're walking away from this with a bruised ego but no other consequences. I'm only 31 myself, but I've learned in my professional life to leave the "gotcha" moments alone and to never burn bridges that aren't necessary to torch.

In life, these coffee shop owners will likely have their fair share of BS because of their attitudes and actions. It's the way you live your life that will determine what hand you're dealt. Put yourself in good situations and good things will follow. Trying to screw over a former employer is not a good position to put yourself in.

In brief, take the high road and you'll never have regrets.
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 3:05 pm
My serious advice is.......irespective of your innocence unless you have something massive to gain avoid courts at all costs. It's definately not worth the trouble. Bite the bullet, learn from it and move on.

If you must just take a dump on their porch at 4 in the morning.........everynight for the next year......and watch out for hidden video cameras.
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