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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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I was terminated from my job as a security guard because i

Customer Question

I was terminated from my job as a security guard because i was seen placing merchandise in my pocket, I was immediately pulled aside and terminated for "having the intent to steal merchandise". I never tampered with the product and i never left the facility with the product. Is this enough to constitute firing an employee.

Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your question.

Unfortunately, yes it is. That is because New York is an "at will" employment state, meaning that unless an employee has an employment contract or union agreement, which may give them more rights on the job, they may be terminated at any time, for any reason, or no reason at all, so long as it is not done for an unlawful reason (e.g., you cannot be terminated because of your race, age, sex, religion, disability or national origin).

RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 10265
Experience: Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
RobertJDFL and 2 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

is what i did illegal? If they called the police could they have pressed charges?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
That depends on what your intent was. New York uses the term "larceny" to define theft crimes. In New York, larceny occurs when a person “wrongfully takes, obtains or withholds” property from its rightful owner, with the intent to deprive the owner of such property. (N.Y. Penal Law § 155.05.)

If your intent by putting the item in your pocket was to take the item without paying for it, that is petit theft. At the very least, your employer could have called the police, and yes, you could have been arrested.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

I don't understand how they could prove that was my intent (i honestly had no intent i was look at some merchandise when a alarm went off and i dropped it in my pocket as i ran to answer the alarm) how is it possible to charge someone with so much gray area in how you perceive someone elses intentions?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Your employer could have called the police, who probably would have arrested you, if I were to make an educated guess. Whether to charge you or not is the decision of the prosecutor's office. Thus, a person can be arrested, but never charged. It depends on whether the prosecutor handling the case believes there is enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to take the item. Certainly, a prosecutor would likely argue in a case like this that by putting the merchandise in your pocket, your intent was to take the item, because that is not normal behavior.

Could there have been a dozen other reasons why you put the item in your pocket? Sure. But that is neither here nor there. Your employer didn't call the police, and they are unlikely to do so now. And, legally speaking, whether you intended to steal the item or not makes no difference, because your employer didn't need any reason to terminate you.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Okay so just so I'm clear on the law, it's legal for an employer to call the police on an employee for having merchandise on there person with no regard for the fact that the employee never altered the merchandise, never removed it from the facility and never denied having it on his/her person.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 1 year ago.
Yes. You don't have to remove an item from a store, for example, to be accused of theft. Concealing the item can be considered enough to argue that you had the 'intent" to take the item. Your employer did not act improperly.

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