Q: I served as a waiter at an affair. Before going home, I asked the caterer for payment of my wages. He insisted that he paid all the waiters, including me, half an hour ago. Who is believed?
A: The general rule is that when the defendant denies the claim, the burden of the proof is on the plaintiff (hamotzi meichavero alav ha’reayah). However, Chazal instituted that on payment day, a worker is believed with a severe oath that he was not paid. The reason is that the employer may be preoccupied with other employees or business interests and is liable to get confused, whereas the employee is focused on his own payment. (C.M. 89:2)
However, if the dispute should arise later on, past the payday, we revert to the general rule, and the employer is believed with a simple oath (shevuas heses). (89:3) We mentioned in a previous issue that Beis Din usually refrains nowadays from administering oaths, and advocates a compromise.
This entire situation could be avoided if the caterer would pay by check or have each waiter sign when paid.
Authored by Rabbi Meir Orlian
These articles are for learning purposes only and cannot be used for final halachic decision. The Business Halacha email is a project of Business Halacha Institute (www.businesshalacha.com) and is under the auspices of Rav Chaim Kohn.