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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19130
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I think I am going to be fired tomorrow morning and may be

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I think I am going to be fired tomorrow morning and may be targeted for speaking up on things for a long time. I have been working for my company for over nine years but the last few years I've become more and more frustrated with the policy changes that make our job harder and that have been happening more and more frequently and have gotten more vocal about it over the years. I recently made a mistake, I backed up into a fence, although I called my supervisor and reported the accident immediately (i described what happened, my supervisor said to head to my next job) they said that I didnt take any pictures so i did not properly report the accident so they gave me a written consultation for that. Last Tuesday morning, I came into work, and my GPS tablet was missing. I reported it to my manager immediately, I got another tablet from Operations Dept and went about my day. On friday, I had to go to the conference room again and explain the missing tablet. I told them that I have been using my same equipment for years with nothing being lost and that I remember plugging everything in before punching out for the day. (I have always done this at the end of my shift). The questioning changed after I got a little heated and the conversation switched - " no one is saying you took the tablet, but we are concerned that you did not call your customers before arriving, because we have the call log sitting right here and you said that you called them" So I'm a little concerned and can use some advice right about now. I think they are going to fire me for dishonesty because I did say that I called my customers which I didn't but my focus at the time to emphasize that I did not and never would steal equipment no matter what the circumstances. My wife is unemployed right now and if I lose my job we are in trouble. Can they deny me unemployment? What are my rights? What should I sign / not sign if anything? How do i protect myself? Can I not sign anything?
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I look forward to assisting you today. I bring nearly 20 years of experience in various legal disciplines.

I have a number of questions and need you to answer each of them for me. Thanks.

Let me make sure that I understand the issue. During questioning on the missing equipment, you stated that you had called customers when you had not done so?

If so, why did you say that you had called the customer when you had not?

Do you have a contract of employment stating that you can only be terminated for cause?

Do you have any evidence that suggests that you are being targeted for termination due to your race, religion, gender, age, disability or FMLA use?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

1. Because i thought the issue was about the missing tablet, not whether phone calls were made or not on it. I made a mistake. It looks like it wasnt about the missing tablet at all.


2. no, I don't.


3. no.

Ok. Here's the problem. In employment situations, without a contract of employment the employer can legally terminate your employment at any time, with or without cause.

So, just for purposes of termination alone, the employer could do so here. They wouldn't even need the basis for termination unless there was some suggestion that they were discriminating against you based on one of those factors I mentioned. Then they would want to have a basis for termination, to bolster that they were not making the decision based on an illegal factor (the things you mentioned about raising issues with company policy does not help here, because there is no law supporting your ability to do that. Essentially, you do so at your own risk, unless you are complaining about issues covered by Wage and Hour law or OSHA safety issues).

So, the employer can terminate you on the facts you've outlined here. The real issue is whether or not they can block your unemployment. Legally, they can certainly try. They have you caught in a dishonest statement. This sort of "bait and switch" questioning isn't illegal. Criminal prosecutors use it all the time and an employer has even more latitude in the manner of their questioning of employees, because they are not hindered by the criminal rules of procedure or evidence.

Unfortunately, they can certainly argue that you made an untrue statement during the course of an investigation and that that amounts to misconduct.

Now, you can certainly argue confusion on your part, in that you were more focused on the issue of the tablet and that you immediately admitted that you hadn't called the customers when the conversation actually turned to that issue. The employer would have to prove their case to block your unemployment (though they don't have to in order to terminate you), so you have a reasonable fighting chance to get that unemployment if they choose to terminate you.

In terms of what to sign and not to sign, that is difficult to say because employers don't generally have set documents that they give to employees to get them to sign. It varies greatly. You have to read each document closely to ensure that you aren't being asked to sign anything admitting misconduct or saying that you resign rather than forcing them to terminate. You also show not sign any document that waives your right to sue, unless they are giving you something in consideration for that (like severance). Finally, you don't have to sign anything in order to obtain your last paycheck, if it comes to that. They legally have to give that to you and you don't have to sign anything to get it.
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