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my husbands boss has been taking money out of his pay for being a few mins late to work. and suspending him for calling out sick. he has been with this company for over 6 years, and makes commission. THey do this without having anything in writing and with out discussing this first with him. SHould we get a lawyer?? It is causing a very hostile work environment. we need help. thanks
I would say yes & no. If your husband is voluntarily employed (no contract/union/etc) than the boss can do whatever he or she wants within reason. As for deducting money for tardiness, is it perfectly legal. As for suspending because of calling out sick, that's tricky.
If your husband was truly sick, was within his allotted sick-leave time, and has a doctors note to prove it; than the boss majorly crossed the line. If he was just playing hookey to see a Phillies game, then your husband is the only one to blame. If he was truly sick and you don't have a note, shame on you. Yes, that makes the boss an ethically-retarded curmudgeon but is not breaking or even bending any laws. If he was outside his allotted sick leave, than he should have gone on short-term disability.
"Hostile Work Environment" is extremely hard to prove. I am a micromanaging bastard that doesn't take "no" for an answer and I do not tolerate laziness, insolence or stupidity. I give 120% and I expect my employees to give the same. However, my employees are my family and I will bend-over backwards and do whatever it takes for them. That means taking a $2,500 salary in 2009 just to not lay anyone off or reduce pay. I literally had to change my honeymoon to one half the price, because I didn't pay my people a penny less and I didn't cut anyone. I may have a prickily demeanor, but I believe I am a good person at heart.
That changes when the workplace becomes abusive. Physically, emotionally and verbally. Screaming and yelling, calling names, undermining work, etc... is "hostile" and then you have a leg to stand on. They key is to prove it and without illegal wiretaps. Pennsylvania is one of those "all party disclosure" states when it comes to recording conversations. Unless you get the department of labor to get a warrant to allow you to record for evidence.
My advice would be to have your husband find new employment. I know it is extremely difficult today, because of the economy and everything. Then, call the Department of Labor and the State Attorney General's office. See what they say. I know they can be super-lazy to enforce any "laws" but if you try them and they don't you can always rip them a new one in the Media for not doing anything.
Sometimes political pressure works. Have your local politician lean on OSHA or the NFPA to fine them for that out of date fire extinguisher or whatever other code violations that all employers unwittingly make. It is all about pressure points. You find something that hurts and you squeeze. The more they resist, the more pressure you apply.
After your husband finds new employment, you can always sue the old boss for unlawfully withheld back-pay with interest and pain and suffering caused by a "Hostile Work Environment." Most times, it won't go anywhere - but if you have a convincing enough attorney, they usually deal for about 15-20% of judgement sought. After your lawyer takes his 33-35% your looking at enough for a decent steak dinner date night. Maybe a horse drawn carriage ride through center city with a romantic dinner at Moshulu at Penns Landing.
Unfortunately, that is absolute best case and be forewarned that it has its risks. You could be counter-sued or even risk of being let go from the new job.
If your husband is Union or has a Contract, then go see a lawyer or a union representative and see what they can do. You may be able to sue for breach of contract for the latter.
Anyway, I am not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice. I am merely posting information that is correct to the best of my knowledge. However, I am human and I could be mistaken.
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