General Question

pleiades's avatar

Lawyers: Is it worth it for me to file a small claims against the restaurant I worked for in which they shut down our location without notice to employees?

Asked by pleiades (5880 points ) January 13th, 2014

From what I read on the internet in California employers don’t have to tell employees they are closing down if there is a staff of under 100 employees.

I think it’s extremely unfair that a restaurant/any place doesn’t have to tell it’s employees, my wages are going to be severed in the mean time while I’m looking for a job.

Do you think I could put up a successful case against the restaurant in court?

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9 Answers

jca's avatar

I am not a lawyer, but I will give my opinion. If you read on the internet that in California, employers don’t have to tell their employees they are closing down if there is a staff of less than 100, then legally you have no leg to stand on. Fairness doesn’t always come into play in life and definitely regarding legal matters.

elbanditoroso's avatar

If they shut down because of $$$ problems, what are you planning to collect in small claims court? What is there to collect?

ETpro's avatar

Not a lawyer here either, however, I do not play one on television. But opinions, I got. And as a small business owner I looked into it when I had a large number of employees in my electronics development firm. In Virginia law, and the laws of most states, there is a classification of employment called at will employment. That means you basically work at the will of the employer. There are a small number of reasons you can’t be let go, such as attending the wrong church or having the wrong racial mix in your family history. But short of such discrimination, you probably have no basis for a claim. If you had an employee contract that specified length of notice before a layoff or severence pay conditions, then you might have a chance. Of course, @elbanditoroso is totally right that there is no blood in a turnip. If the business shut down operations suddenly because they were broke and lost a line of credit, then even if you win a judgement against the owner/s, they can show the small claims court that they lack the ability to pay and the case will be dismissed without prejudice. Dismissed without prejudice means you can file another small claims action in the future over the same matter, but each time you do, you must pay the filing fee. And if they still are unable to pay, it will be dismissed without prejudice again.

CWOTUS's avatar

Aside from the practical advice you’ve received above, which seems sound, consider your next job.

One of the screening processes that employers use to review potential employees is their legal history. That doesn’t always mean “has this person been in trouble with the law”, but “has this person caused trouble in lawsuits”.

I doubt if your lawsuit would be effective, but consider the small reward that you’re apt to reap in the “best case scenario” versus the long-term effect on future employment if you’re screened out of potential future jobs because you have the reputation of being “a troublemaker”.

You may consider that to be grossly unfair, too – and maybe it is – but it’s the reality of the way the world works, too.

Judi's avatar

As long as they paid you the wages you worked then I don’t think you have a case. What exactly would you be asking for and how would you justify it?

Seek's avatar

Sweetie, that’s what unemployment compensation is for. This is considered a not-at-fault permanent layoff, and it’s pretty much an immediate approval.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

If you do not receive your IRS W-2 in a timely manner go to the Federal Government and report it.
I don’t think you’ll get anywhere in court trying to get paid.
Just make sure you able file an income tax return.

pleiades's avatar

@Seek_Kolinahr @Tropical_Willie and @all thanks! I’m not bitter per say, more like it doesn’t seem right, I mean I would do them a solid by putting in my two weeks. And they do have money, they are an extremely well developed restaurant with multiple locations in Arizona. They just so happened to park in a location in San Diego with street parking vs a parking lot which they are accustomed to I guess.

Ok that is all thanks guys! Just wanted to see if someone might’ve had experience with this or know of something similar.

Seek's avatar

Well, in June I was laid off with exactly five minutes’ notice. Two weeks after I was laid off the company closed its doors.

So, kind of the same thing. I would have felt better had they actually told me the company was closing, rather than simply brushing me off like I didn’t matter.

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