Fined For A Made-Up Charge

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about a fine:

Last month, my boyfriend left his full time job in a retail store to pursue a different career. Only last week did he (with me in tow) return to the store to ask the boss about his final payslip which he had not yet received. It turned out that she was not working on that day and my boyfriend asked the register operator at the time “where the hell is she?”. The operator laughed and explained that he did not know, then we left the store.

Today my boyfriend got a letter in the mail from the police, a $240 fine for indecent behaviour (foul language and abuse) towards the boss on that day. Apparently 4 other employees (her favourite workers who she turned into support managers) claim they were all standing behind her and they each gave a statement as proof of him committing this “crime”. As previously stated, this did not happen at all. He must be a very magical person for being able to abuse someone who wasn’t even there and especially when 4 other employees who were nowhere to be seen were able to place him at the “scene of the crime”. I went to school with some of these said employees and none of them mentioned me being there at all – amazing considering their statements were apparently so detailed. Lying to the authorities is an issue in itself, but what can my boyfriend do to stop this unnecessary ‘bitchy’ behaviour from these employees?

Signed, Wanting the Truth To Be Told

Dear Wanting the Truth To Be Told:

The best solution for the long-run is to not go into that store again and if you do, not use language that sounds upset or angry. But, right now, the big concern is to deal with the police matter and have that removed from your friend’s record. You’re not in the U.S., so the process may be different there than here. And, we’re not lawyers so we don’t have legal advice. But, I can provide some basic guidelines.

1. I can’t imagine a law that allows someone to make a complaint when they weren’t present. So, there is something wrong about that citation or you are misunderstanding it. Look over the citation letter and see if there is contact person for finding out more about it. At least look up the law cited as being violated and read the elements of it to see why the charge was made. Find out what is involved in contesting the citation.(For example, do you have to be represented by an attorney, will you both of you be able to testify and will your boss have to produce witnesses, etc.)

2. Decide if you need an attorney to help you. The cost would be more than the fine, but it also might allow your friend to get the citation dismissed.

3. If there is a former employee of your boyfriend who seemed friendly at the time he might want to contact him away from work and ask if he would be a witness on his behalf. But if he does that your friend absolutely cannot sound angry at anyone. It can’t be emotional and he can’t use profanity even in jest. Simply ask if the employee witnessed what happened and would he or she give your friend a written statement about it that he could take to court.That’s another reason to have an attorney, because they would ensure that no further issues happen.

4. Realize the potential for this situation. It can escalate very quickly into something much more serious if you and your friend aren’t careful. Every action and word must be watched to ensure that nothing more is said or done that could be viewed as threatening or abusive–intentionally or otherwise.Your friend’s future and his legal record both are worth more than dealing with people who apparently are not trustworthy.Best wishes to you with this matter. If you have the time and wish to do so, let us know what happens.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.