Question: I have a friend who worked for a sandwich shop. Her employer paid her with cash. He continually told her that he forgot to do the necessary tax calculations, so he just took one third off what she earned, and paid her the remaining two thirds. When she resigned he held back $300 because he said she didn’t give him enough notice. Is this legal?

Edna, California

Answer: Almost everything about how your friend’s boss paid her is illegal, including (a) not withholding taxes in the proper amount, and (b) not paying her for time worked before she resigned. My guess is that he is even pocketing her tax monies, which is a kind of theft. Please tell your friend that she should contact the nearest office of the California Department of Industrial Relations, Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. She can find this information by going to

Best, Al Sklover