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TJ, Esq.
TJ, Esq., Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 12002
Experience:  JD, MBA
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I was terminated yesterday afternoom being accused of theft.

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I was terminated yesterday afternoom being accused of theft. Someone had wrote a letter to my company accusing me stealing a metal (tungsten carbide) and also stating I was addicted to pain killers. I have been on Medical leave of absence due to a bulging hip and had returned full duty on the day of termination. The company and third party Medical company both were aware that I was prescribed the medication for pain. As for the metal, about a year ago it was brought to our attention that the metal that we were tossing was being taken at the end of the day. We caught on to it and was told it was worth money. At this time it was brought quite a bit of employees attention and became a daily routine. There was no procedure implemented nor scrap bin in place to discard of this metal so it was just tossed in the trash. My supervisor was aware and even gave me some metal one day to take home. I did not consider this stealing as my supervisor had pretty much gave me the ok to so. Now this wasnt somethinh we would creep in the middle of the night or wait till everyone left to do, it was clear as day that employees were "recycleing" this metal in their own way being it was TRASH which even the manager stated "as long as it is in the trash, I dont care". So it seriously was an everyday thing which we the employees did not consider stealing or else serious consequences would have followed once brought to the manager's attention. A few months after it became the majority of the employees daily routine, we noticed that new and unused metal was being taken home which we all considered stealing. It was no longer scrap, bad, and metal that could not used but brand new metal. This was brought to the managers attention as it was causing a conflict on our operations and became an obvious threat that was depleting our inventory and we were unable to supply our jobs with any back up parts to back ups at all. The manager held everyone together in a meeting and stated the following " Who ever is taking the carbide home, it stops today. This is your warning. From this point on if you are caught taking anything from the shop, especially metal, you will be terminated on site. People are now taking new parts from inventory and we will not have that in our shop. It is stealing and we do not allow it". Now to my knowledge that is a verbal warning and all slates were wiped. Obviously we did not want to risk our jobs so we all stopped and a scrap bin and procedure was implented which we followed. Metal was still dissappearing and we established safeguards from locks, signatures aknowledging that the employee who last touched the carbide was aware that all carbide accounted for, as well as to and from job logs to track where this metal was ending up. I was the employee who established the majority, if not all, these safeguard to protect my reputation and employment status as well as the employment of my fellow co workers. So where do I draw the fine line on what is right and if I was terminated wrongfully for a previously handled issue? I was accused with out the opportunity to view the letter accusing me, can this become slander if I was wrongfully terminated? What are my rights? I was the only employee to be terminated, I had a lead position, up for promotion, and no previous write up ir reprimands. I did not take nor attempt to take the metal once manager established it was stealing. It is simply not fair that I was the only employee out of Id say at least 15 employees to be terminated for something that was already handled my a our manager. Please help!!!!
Hello and thank you for allowing me the opportunity to assist you.

Q: So where do I draw the fine line on what is right and if I was terminated wrongfully for a previously handled issue?

A: If a person has no employment contract that limits the reasons that he can be terminated, then he is considered an employee at-will. The employment at-will doctrine states that either the employer or the employee may end the employment relationship at any time and for any reason. Over the years, courts and legislatures have carved out narrow exceptions to the employment at-will doctrine for illegal discrimination and retaliation, but they are exactly that -- Exceptions. If the exceptions don't apply, then the courts will simply view the termination as a lawful business decision, and therefore, such a decision will not be overturned even if it was unfair or can be proven to have been poorly made. It sounds harsh, but it's that same principle that allows the employee to immediately quit that job if he were to find something better. In other words, the employer is not shackled to the employment relationship any more than the employee is shackled to it. Unfortunately, this means that it doesn't matter whether the slate was wiped clean or not. Your employer could have fired you either way.


Q: I was accused with out the opportunity to view the letter accusing me, can this become slander if I was wrongfully terminated?

A: It sounds like it could be defamation of character, but the party you would sue is the person who wrote the letter, not your former employer. Although your employer has not provided the information about the person who wrote the letter, you can get that information with a subpoena. If you would like to pursue a lawsuit, then I suggest that you retain a local attorney who can subpoena the letter from your former employer, and then file a lawsuit.

Does that answer your question? Please let me know if you need clarification, as I am happy to continue helping you until you are satisfied. Also, your positive feedback is much appreciated.

Thank you for using our service!
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So is it ok for them to only penalize me when managent knew about it and said nothing? Is it just? That they only terminatede knowing there is a whole crew that has done it and gave them a second chance once agaim by saying if you steal from us you will be prosecuted?

Hi again.

Q: So is it ok for them to only penalize me when managent knew about it and said nothing? Is it just? That they only terminatede knowing there is a whole crew that has done it and gave them a second chance once agaim by saying if you steal from us you will be prosecuted?

A: Is it just? No. Is it lawful? Unfortunately, yes. There is no law that requires that an employer act fairly except that an employer may not discriminate based upon race, religion, gender, etc.. Other than the exception for illegal discrimination, an employer has no obligation to treat employees fairly. I truly wish that I had better news. I'd love to be able to tell you that your employer did something illegal and that you have a reason to sue. But you paid good money for an honest answer. I want to give you that honest answer even if it's not the result that you were hoping for.

I truly wish you best in finding a new job.
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