Aspen judge to decide alleged thief’s lawsuit over back wages

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ASPEN, Colo. — An Aspen judge will rule next week on a lawsuit by a man accused to stealing $2,000 from a former employer, the suspect says owed him back wages.

Joseph Kern is accused to two counts of felony burglary and felony theft after police said he took $2,000 cash from the safe of a CP Burger in October, reported the Aspen Daily News.

Kern said he took the money because he was owed wages from his time as the director of operations of five Aspen restaurants.

The judge in the case, Erin Fernandez-Ely, acknowledged that if she rules in favor of Kern’s lawsuit against CP Burger, it would impact his criminal case because Kern did not intend to “permanently deprive” his former employer of the cash, the newspaper reported.

This is a critical part of proving a theft case.

Kerns said he is owed almost $5,200. The owner of the burger chain is countersuing asking for about $5,600.

Employers must pay immediately to employees upon termination, Fernandez-Ely said. In the case of theft, an employer can deduct the amount allegedly stolen from the final paycheck.

But, if the former employee is found to be innocent, they are exonerated from civil penalties, the judge said.

A ruling is expected February 21.