Should I Just Move On?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about never made to sign a W-4 or I-9 forms.

My situation is a bit complex, but I’ll try to be as brief as possible. Earlier this year I obtained another job to earn some extra income. Within a month I was fired. They’re reasoning was very vague. They said I was not performing, and blamed me for slow lunches. The only specific action they indicated was the fact that I checked myself out before a customer.

In retrospect, it is fair that they fired me then as the customer should always come first. Regardless of what I have learned since then, at the time my departure was less than diplomatic. To say that I was furious was an understatement. It was the first time I had ever been fired, and I admit I did not handle it well. In a heated phone conversation with the owner of the unit later, I was told I was the worst employee he had ever had and then proceeded to call me a dumb ass when I pressed him about whether or not he would stiffing me on my last check.

Anyway, I picked up my last paycheck two weeks later and after one last visit on behalf of my sister who loves their food I have not stepped foot in there again. I have attempted to mend my relations with the owner and the manager who fired me, but was met coolly. My firing is not the reason I am contacting you; however. A few days ago I realized that I was never made to sign a W-4 or I-9. Some superficial research of mine indicates that the only way they could have those on file is if they forged my signature either electronically or manually. I did give them copies of my ID and SS card, but I never filled out either of those forms. I am now conflicted on whether I report the owner for not retaining proper documentation.

More importantly, though, I am worried about the implications are for me for not filling out those forms. My understanding is that the W-4 was my responsibility to present to them from the beginning, but that the I-9 form is completely on them. So my questions to you are these: would it be good idea to report the owner for this? What are the repercussions I could face in regards to future jobs if I do this? Also, would I be liable for any federal penalties for not filling out the forms mentioned above. And lastly how would you recommend obtaining my W-2 from them with such sour relations if I decide not to report them.

Signed, Anxious and Conflicted

Dear Anxious and Conflicted:

You can contact the company’s personnel office to learn about this matter if you are really worried. However, although I don’t know much about personnel and our site doesn’t provide legal advice, I think you will learn W2 forms are not sent out until the years is over. That would probably be late in January 2013 for you.Apparently, you have reflected on this first time to be fired experience and learned from it. So in your own words, it is time to move on. How?

Focus on acquiring the training and job experience needed for a career. Often finding a job you feel good about and a place in which you can make a contribution is takes time and is a process of elimination. But there are employee-friendly workplaces and they need conscientious young people, such as I sense you are. You might find scanning our Archive and clicking on the name of my associate workplace doctor, Tina Lewis Rowe, access her site, resources to increase your understanding of the many unexpected frustrations and opportunities that you might encounter in future employment. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS.

William Gorden