Pay charged/arrested nanny for her last week of work?
September 4, 2016 1:06 AM   Subscribe

While she was driving our kids around, our nanny was just arrested(!) and charged with several counts of child endangerment (!!) and illegally carrying a firearm (!!!), resulting in me having to fetch my slightly traumatized kids up at the police station and take them home (!!!!). Should I pay the nanny for her last week of work?

I imagine that lots of people will think the answer to this question is obvious. I don't think it's obvious. I am not asking for legal advice; I am asking what the morally right thing to do is.

We employ a young woman to pick up our kids from school and bring them home 5 days a week. After school, she sometimes takes them to a park or bookstore, etc. Apparently, she received a call from her boyfriend who wanted a ride somewhere. She drove to his apartment to pick him up with my kids in the back seat of the car.

Unbeknownst to anyone, (1) the police, in an unmarked car, were surveilling the apartment complex where Boyfriend lives on an unrelated matter, (2) Boyfriend was walking around the outside of the complex displaying some sort of machine gun (!!!!!), and (3) this produced attention from the police. Then, Nanny arrives at complex and picks up Boyfriend. Boyfriend carries machine-gun-sized backpack into car -- the car which contains Nanny and my kids. Police see this, draw the reasonable conclusion that it's an emergency, and pull over and search the car. Boyfriend arrested because he's a felon who is indeed illegally carrying a machine gun in his backpack. Nanny arrested too because she's illegally carrying a pistol in her purse.

So I get the call from the police telling me my kids are upset but OK, and I pick them up at the police substation. This all happened yesterday.

Obviously I had no idea that I was employing a pistol-packing nanny who was chauffering her machine-gun-carrying boyfriend around with my kids in the backseat. Obviously, she's fired. But, as naive as this sounds, it's Friday. We pay her at the end of every week. Should I pay her for her last week of work? Understandably, I am furious at her for getting my kids even tangentially involved in what appears to be some serious craziness. But my fury doesn't affect the fact that she provided a service for at least four days this week for which she's arguably entitled to compensation. On the other hand, although I try to be a humane employer, you don't want to be the guy who asks how much you tip the whipper.

So what do you think? Cut her a check for her final week of work, or stiff her because she obviously misbehaved on the job?

(Admins: I appreciate this may sound unbelievable, but this isn't a hoax -- I will email you copies of cashed checks and a booking/charging mugshot if you want them.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (61 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
She provided a service for at least four days this week for which she's arguably entitled to compensation.

This. You don't get to decide that someone's employment ended back when you wish, in retrospect, that you had fired them.
posted by lollusc at 1:13 AM on September 4, 2016 [151 favorites]


Gut reaction is no. Her poor choice in picking up her guntoting boyfriend that last day makes me say this.

Then I think, if you'd paid by the day cash in hand, she would have been paid those last four days, and not the day she stuffed up. You wouldn't be able to go back in time and take that money off her.

So ... yes, pay her. But that not that last day. (WTF!!!)
posted by owlrigh at 1:14 AM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Pay the nanny in cash and make it clear that the cash covers both the final week of her employment and an understanding that she will never approach your family again, nor will you approach her or her SO.

Bury your anger while meeting with her. This is a business transaction with the goal of keeping guns and gun owners away from your children. You do not want these people as enemies or friends. You simply want nothing to do with them, ever again.

Don't create a grudge by underpaying. Don't show weakness by overpaying. Just create an opportunity for everyone to walk away and carry on with their respective lives.
posted by b1tr0t at 1:18 AM on September 4, 2016 [83 favorites]


Maybe you could make an argument to only pay her for 9/10ths of a week (after all she never got your kids home); anything else would be illegal and unethical. But when it comes down to it do you want to be involved with any sort of drama with this person? Pay her for the full week and be done with it. Setting yourself up for a employment lawsuit with someone who packs weapons illegally and knows your children's schedule seems unwise.
posted by Mitheral at 1:20 AM on September 4, 2016 [26 favorites]


She definitely gets paid for the first four days --- you may now SUSPECT she was carrying her gun while transporting your kids, but there's no proof plus yes she did the job; you can't retroactively fire someone for a suspicion.

So that just leaves the final day's pay in question. She doesn't deserve the consideration, of course, but it could be nit-picked and argued that she did HALF that days work since she did pick up the kids. I'd lean on the 'pay her' side, and count it as paying to be rid of her.
posted by easily confused at 1:22 AM on September 4, 2016 [9 favorites]


I would give her the regular weekly check as normal just to get her out of your life for good. If you decide to dock her pay she could decide to make it a thing and whether or not she has any moral high ground it just seems like an unnecessary hassle. Plus she may be innocent, she may not have known what her boyfriend was up to, and you don't really know the story about the gun in her purse.
posted by bleep at 1:37 AM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


"I would give her the regular weekly check as normal just to get her out of your life for good."

This. Pay her so there is no reason for future contact.
posted by shoesietart at 1:45 AM on September 4, 2016 [58 favorites]


Definitely pay for the last week. But I'd also lawyer up and have them check any employment contract there may be and check everything thoroughly so you're 100% squeaky clean. Additionally, have your lawyer be the one to give her her last paycheck, and indicate that she'll need to communicate through them to get into any future contact with you. I'd normally not be so hardcore but when it comes to guns and kids I feel like it's worth it to have some professional consultation and a legal barrier between future interactions with her.
posted by Mizu at 1:46 AM on September 4, 2016 [12 favorites]


Cut her a check for her final week of work, or stiff her because she obviously misbehaved on the job?

Pay the final week. Employment arrangements are contracts not morality plays. She worked for you up to a certain point in time, at which point she lost her job for spectacularly appropriate reasons. She doesn't sound like the best person in the world (and let's not get started on the boyfriend), but that doesn't mean you should try to rewrite history and pretend she wasn't an employee prior to her very bad choices. Pay her for the work she did and move on.
posted by langtonsant at 2:10 AM on September 4, 2016 [16 favorites]


What bleep said. And when hiring a replacement nanny, make it a condition of their employment that they do not carry a gun in the presence of your children, or knowingly allow anyone with a gun to be in the presence of your children. (I grew up in Australia - in a city - so the idea of having to put that in an employment contract is weird and scary, but sounds like it's necessary.)
posted by finding.perdita at 2:12 AM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wow. I guess it's possible your nanny and her boyfriend were on the way to the shooting range or whatever but it honestly sounds more like they were headed out to commit an armed robbery or shoot someone up. I'm so glad your children are safe.

So, you need to pay your nanny in whatever usual form (cash, a check, whatever) for her last week of service because you don't want violent felons with access to automatic weapons holding a grudge against you because you (actually, legitimately) owe them money. Whether your nanny and her bf get released or that grudge gets passed on to someone else in their social circle. You give her her money and make it clear that this is the last contact you or your family will ever be making with her. B1tr0t has good advice here.

You're also going to want to change your locks and look into a home camera security system if you don't already have one. Wow.
posted by moonlight on vermont at 3:01 AM on September 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


I understand that was a really traumatic experience for you and your kids but what you are proposing to do is still theft.

Morally (and legally), stealing from your ex-babysitter is wrong even if you fired her for very good cause and you are sure you can get away with it.

Don't be a thief, pay her.
posted by sputzie at 3:18 AM on September 4, 2016 [14 favorites]


Pay your nanny for her last week of work. I get that you want to punish her somehow for recklessly endangering your kids, but firing her is enough punishment. You still have to pay her for the work she's done.
posted by colfax at 3:49 AM on September 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


Just wanted to add: somebody upthread suggested paying her this final week's pay in cash: no, you absolutely want to pay by check, giving you a written record that you have paid her. (Hopefully you have always paid by check in the past, too.)

Oh, and I'd like to second moonlight on vermont: change your locks if you haven't already.
posted by easily confused at 4:16 AM on September 4, 2016 [39 favorites]


From her perspective, she's done something dumb, she's been arrested, she's lost contact with two kids she cared at least a little about, and she's lost her job. Don't add having to chase down the last week's pay to that. The kind thing to do here is to pay her. The moral high road is to say something like: you've made a mistake. We can never see you again. But we acknowledge the work that you did for us up until this point.

(I like the idea of a lawyer as mentioned above.)
posted by freethefeet at 5:01 AM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


I think it would be perfectly moral, and very likely legal (although TINLA), not to pay for the final week. An implicit part of the bargain was that she would not engage in conduct that would endanger your kids.

You contracted for X; she didn't provide X; accordingly you're not obligated to pay for service X that you didn't get.

Given that, it just comes down to the most prudent course. And I think commenters above nailed it: pay her on condition she never contact yall again.
posted by jpe at 5:38 AM on September 4, 2016


Just pay her. There is absolutely no sound reason why you need to make this astonishing drama any more dramatic than it already is.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on September 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


Do not pay her, she is a thug. she endangered your children. get her trespassed from your home & the school where she picked up your kids. Maybe even a restraining order if she wants to push the issue. You owe her NOTHING.
posted by patnok at 6:13 AM on September 4, 2016


McDonald's would pay her. Target would pay her. Wells Fargo would pay her. You should pay her.
posted by ian1977 at 6:24 AM on September 4, 2016 [20 favorites]


A) Has she asked to be paid?

B) did she really provide the service she agreed to? What kind of danger has she been putting your kids in this whole time. She and her boyfriend are terrifying and don't seem to have very good judgement.

C) Her boyfriend has a machine gun that he brought to meet up with your kids. And she had a gun in her purse. (Does she have a permit for this?)

They are terrifying. You have to change your locks. Changing your locks should be docked from her pay.

D) If she pushes back about this, THEN I would pay her because she and her boyfriend are terrifying.
posted by crankyrogalsky at 6:29 AM on September 4, 2016


Seconding easily confused here. You need to pay her by check so there's a paper trail, and you absolutely need to pay her. Doing a job badly or unsafely is not a reason not to pay someone, unfortunately. Do you really want this woman mad at you?

Change your locks, mail her a check, send it CERTIFIED MAIL so she has to sign for it, and DO NOT ENGAGE in any other way.
posted by Slinga at 6:43 AM on September 4, 2016 [11 favorites]


If you get fired, do you want to be paid for your last two weeks of work? Of course you have to oay her for the last week. Send a check.
posted by Kalmya at 7:14 AM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yes, you should pay her. She demonstrated terrible judgment and may well be a awful person, but she still performed the work that she was hired to do.

Several years ago the company that I worked for fired someone whose casual disregard for company procedure had cost us over $100,000. He still received his final paycheck on his last day of employment.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 7:16 AM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm surprised people are telling you to pay her for the whole week. Pay her for every day but the last. She did not complete the service you hired her for. You have proof that she put your children in danger. She does not deserve to be paid for that.
posted by Amy93 at 7:31 AM on September 4, 2016


Cut her a check for her final week of work, or stiff her
Seems pretty clear from your wording here what you think the right thing to do is.
posted by billjings at 7:36 AM on September 4, 2016 [7 favorites]


The idea of haggling over exactly what percentage of the final week of childcare you are ethically obligated to pay this person strikes me as an absurd level of transactional morality -- a real "other than that, how did Mrs. Lincoln like the play?" situation. She utterly betrayed your trust, scarred your kids, and put them in danger. Assuming your employment contract is otherwise legal (many informal childcare arrangements aren't) I would suggest she is vulnerable to a hefty civil suit from you in addition to the criminal penalties. Obviously you don't owe her a dime.

The reason to pay this person in full anyway and just let it go is entirely pragmatic, to get this incredibly reckless and dangerous person with intimate knowledge of your property and routines out of your life forever without rancor. I'd do it for that reason, with the explicit statement suggested above that "this ends our relationship," pursue the restraining order option, change your locks, and get a security system at least for a while.
posted by gerryblog at 8:12 AM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


I think employment law is pretty clear that you have to pay someone for any hours they worked. Get your revenge by leaving a scathing review with whatever place you used to hire her, but you do owe her the money for hours worked.
posted by MsMolly at 8:21 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Do you want to get sued by these people? Pay the woman what you owe her for the work she performed, she is legally entitled to it!

Also. Ignore anyone fearmongering about how they were totally about to go shoot up a bank with your kids in the car. People who illegally carry do it basically every day for basically no reason at all.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:23 AM on September 4, 2016 [15 favorites]


(Also, it's vanishing unlikely that the guy had a machine gun- he may have had a semi-automatic rifle.)
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:29 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pay the woman. This is not the kind of person you piss off more than necessary and you are already firing her.
posted by w0mbat at 8:47 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


I'm both an employer and a parent, and you definitely pay this person the money you owe them, with the proper paper trail, and then pray they forget you exist. It would be foolish to encourage any future entanglements, legal or emotional, over what is probably a meager amount of money.
posted by bizwank at 8:54 AM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


She utterly betrayed your trust, scarred your kids, and put them in danger. Assuming your employment contract is otherwise legal (many informal childcare arrangements aren't) I would suggest she is vulnerable to a hefty civil suit from you in addition to the criminal penalties. Obviously you don't owe her a dime.

The first two sentences are true, but that doesn't mean the third one is. For example, in the state of CT (where I live), the law is pretty clear:
Sec. 31-71e. Withholding of part of wages. No employer may withhold or divert any portion of an employee's wages unless (1) the employer is required or empowered to do so by state or federal law, or (2) the employer has written authorization from the employee for deductions on a form approved by the commissioner, or (3) the deductions are authorized by the employee, in writing, for medical, surgical or hospital care or service, without financial benefit to the employer and recorded in the employer's wage record book.
If you were to not pay her promptly the wages for the hours that she worked, and you were to sue her for emotional distress or the like, any halfway decent lawyer would use the illegally withheld wages as leverage, either via a countersuit or via a threat of filing a complaint with the appropriate Dept. of Labor.
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:15 AM on September 4, 2016 [6 favorites]


We pay her at the end of every week. Should I pay her for her last week of work?

Even aside from the part where I suspect you're legally obligated to, so the moral question doesn't really pertain, I agree with langtonsant that you absolutely should, especially this: "that doesn't mean you should try to rewrite history and pretend she wasn't an employee prior to her very bad choices".

Maybe it would help you frame the issue to think about how long the gap between paydays would have to be before you stopped feeling like it would be reasonable to withhold her pay: would you be asking this question if you paid her every two weeks? Every month? Quarterly?

Obviously it's reasonable to suspect, given what just happened, that she may not have had the greatest judgment or might have done not-great things in the time leading up to it -- but, in the absence of any evidence of whether she's done this before, or for how long, how far back into the past would you be willing to reach as a penalty?
posted by dorque at 9:18 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Stiffing her the money she's owed would be illegal, immoral, and would probably ratchet up the level of drama that your whole family will experience.
posted by palomar at 9:20 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Pay her for the full week and be rid of her in 100% good conscience.
posted by mochapickle at 9:23 AM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Adding to the chorus of "pay her the full week," and adding on "you do NOT want her to have any excuse to bring drama where your kids are." Pay her!
posted by instamatic at 9:27 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Let's assume that because of State and local laws where you live, and the employment contract you had with her, that legally you are on solid ground to not pay her for her final week. Even then, the prudent thing to is to pay her for the last week and be done with her. Don't leave yourself open to grudges or complaints. This is not based on the morality of what she has done - I would give the same advice I'd you were firing her for any reason at all. It is always better to wash your hands of a situation like that than to leave any entanglements unresolved.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:28 AM on September 4, 2016


You gotta wonder what their next step was going to be. If you have tons of money. I would pay her for the entire week, chances are she is a victim of the boyfriend, even though she goes about armed. A lot of people do this. In some ways it might be a benefit that she could provide guard services for your children. Did the police forestall a kidnapping attempt?
posted by Oyéah at 9:33 AM on September 4, 2016



You're also going to want to change your locks and look into a home camera security system if you don't already have one.


No kidding-- do everything you can to beef up your security. I'd be speaking with the police officers who contacted you to see if they can cruise by a little more often. They may already be doing so, considering what happened.
posted by BibiRose at 9:41 AM on September 4, 2016


Pay her. You have the right to fire her, but you have no right to steal her wages.
posted by splitpeasoup at 9:58 AM on September 4, 2016 [10 favorites]


Pay her. I am a parent and you are not a judge or a court.
posted by latkes at 10:14 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


Absolutely, pay her.

Not least because for the rest of your life, when the topic of nannies comes up, your story will be very, very difficult to top -- and, FWIW, one of Nabokov's tutors ("Max") in pre-revolutionary Russia carried a pistol in his pocket and actually drew it in young Nabokov's presence once during some perilous passage that may or may not have had something to do with the Czar's police; I can't remember.
posted by jamjam at 10:22 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'd pay her just to be absolutely certain I crossed every t and dotted every i in the case of some kind of future civil or criminal complaint. I'd pay her with a check and a letter of termination and I'd consider getting the letter and copy of the check notarized.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:00 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Even if someone does a horrible job, the law says you have to pay them for time worked. Pay her. Did she care for your children reasonable well? Maybe have a talk with her and see if you can guide her to some better path. You can show your children how compassion works. Your anger and distress are quite understandable. But it's how you respond under duress that is most telling.
posted by theora55 at 11:36 AM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


It would be wage theft not to pay her.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:45 AM on September 4, 2016 [4 favorites]


What she did wasn't right, and you committing wage theft doesn't somehow cancel that out. Pay her what you owe her.
posted by rtha at 12:16 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


If she got fired for same at any other job she'd be paid for time worked.
posted by good lorneing at 12:56 PM on September 4, 2016


For God's sake, pay her for the week! Hell, give her a separation bonus! Give her any amount of money necessary to ensure that she never approaches you or your family again.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:44 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


Pay her and hire a PI to tail your next nanny a few times.
posted by mantecol at 1:56 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Remember to do something super nice for the police officers! They acted quickly and decisively to safeguard your kids. Heartfelt letter, cookies, pizza, whatever. Maybe that's a separate Ask - what would be a good show of appreciation in this case.

I'm so glad your kids came out of this unharmed!
posted by metaseeker at 2:56 PM on September 4, 2016 [5 favorites]


So what do you think? Cut her a check for her final week of work, or stiff her because she obviously misbehaved on the job?

I'm going to make some assumptions here, Anon. They may be wrong, but I'm willing to be you'll see a hint of truth in this. You wrote this on Friday, seemingly right after a stressful and scary situation that no parent should ever have to deal with. This woman (I won't even call her a nanny-- nannies are supposed to care for kids) was carrying a firearm around with your kids in tow. She allowed a felon in a car with your children. She allowed that same felon to put even more weaponry in the car was carrying your children. She was stupid enough to do this when the police were watching, so that you had police officers approaching a car that they knew contained firearms -- jumpy police officers have been known to get trigger happy. You are angry. You are retroactively scared, because you don't know how many other times she's done this, you don't know if one of your kids might have reached into her purse for some candy or something...I could go on but...

You want her punished. I don't blame you.

But withholding her pay for the service that she already provided is not the way to punish this woman. Maybe, maybe a good lawyer might be able to get you out of paying the last day if this went to court, but a lawyer who was worth your money would tell you to pay her and be done with it.

Here are constructive things you can do that might serve your goal while also making the world a better place: co-operate (and encourage your kids to co-operate) truthfully with the police to the extent that you and they are able. If you are in the U.S.* and are still this angry after, say, mid-next week**, poison the well of her future potential clients: How did you find her? Word of mouth? Make sure that whoever recommended her knows that happened. Online? Post a review truthfully detailing what happened (add in those mug shots if you can). Did she post a bulletin board notice somewhere? Print up your own notices with the same truthful account (more mug shots!) and post them where you saw her notice (and any place else you think she might advertise).

*truth is generally a defense to libel in the U.S. (if you're smart, you'll contact that lawyer who's worth your time to verify your liability before you do any of this), I wouldn't touch British or other OUS defamation laws with a ten-foot pole.

**I think it's fair to say that you are living a better life than she is. As (rightfully) angry as you are with her right now, consider whether you can muster the kindness to just let this go (especially wrt strangers -- I'd warn anyone I knew not to recommend/use her anymore). If you do go the poisoning-the-well route, be prepared to up your household security significantly for a while.
posted by sparklemotion at 3:21 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


The story from the police is not necessarily true. Police can and do plant evidence.

But you cannot keep the nanny because you will never feel secure.

You aren't going to sue the nanny because there isn't a positive outcome there (she's not Moneybags McDuck).

The simplest, fairest thing is to pay her for her last week and move on.
posted by zippy at 6:02 PM on September 4, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm going to assume you don't have a nanny contract, or it doesn't address what happens if you terminate her with cause (if you do, then just follow the contract.)

As a parent, who has hired and fired/laid off multiple nannies, and who does have a contract: pay her. Notify her in writing that you are terminating for cause, and enclose the check for the whole week. Send it certified, and then report her to whatever source you found her from.

Also, don't be surprised if she still lists you as a reference. People can be surprisingly stupid.
posted by snickerdoodle at 6:59 PM on September 4, 2016 [1 favorite]


Two wrongs don't make a right. Pay her. My only concern is that you not pay her in person alone.
posted by AugustWest at 7:05 PM on September 4, 2016 [2 favorites]


Things to do, in order of importance:

1. Contact your children's school, both in person and in writing, so that the office staff and your children's teachers know that this person who has been okay to pick up your children up until now is absolutely never allowed to do so ever again.

2. Change your locks (and your alarm code if she knew that)

3. Cut her her final check for the hours she worked before she was arrested.
posted by blueberry at 10:07 PM on September 4, 2016 [13 favorites]


Pay her for the week, end the relationship, and be thankful nothing serious happened to your children.
posted by ragtimepiano at 12:50 PM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


A lot of people are answering this from the pragmatic or legal standpoint (and seemingly assuming that you're operating within US employment law). But you asked what is morally right. There are interesting debates if you Google the morality of revenge or the morality of punishment.

(Ultimately, I'm with the pragmatists and those pointing to your legal obligations. Also, I think you could meet with her as you've always done, i.e., you don't need to assume she's likely to attack or sue you.)
posted by salvia at 4:58 PM on September 5, 2016


Just wanted to second what blueberry said, as it was the first mention of it that I saw: INFORM THE SCHOOL THAT SHE CANNOT PICK UP YOUR CHILDREN. Please!
posted by quiet_musings at 6:54 PM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


To clarify, I believe paying your nanny the agreed upon sum for the week is the morally right thing to do. Morally, we are obligated to be as good as we can to everyone else, especially anyone with less power than ourselves.
posted by latkes at 8:55 PM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


I was thinking about this, and I hope you give the kids a chance to talk to somebody about how someone they trusted didn't care for them adequately. But the police did, and you, their parents did, and they're safe.
posted by theora55 at 9:43 AM on September 6, 2016 [6 favorites]


Yes, pay her, if only to relieve your conscience and remove any reason for this nanny to stay in your life.

Pay for the whole week.

Send her a check (I think certified mail is a good idea) with a short, typed letter that says something like:

Dear Nanny Annie,

Enclosed is a check for $X amount for the week of August 2X to September 0X.

- Anonymous

Don't get ragey, don't try to shame her, don't try to get her to feel bad, the best possible situation for you and your children is that she is out of your life cleanly and harbors as few resentments against you as possible.
posted by amicamentis at 2:22 PM on September 8, 2016 [3 favorites]


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