How best to deal with a wrongful termination and denial of unemployment?

I was wondering how strong my case is and how to deftly navigate the situation from here. Here is the case I recently was wrongfully terminated by my former employer on grounds for stealing. I did in fact pay cash for the items in questions at the end of my shift as can be seen and documented by the point of sales operating system. My “bank” and sales receipts were all accounted for and given in full to the company at the end of my shift (i.e. all money was accounted for in full). However they have presented a signed document that states that I agree to the termination on the ground of stealing which I signed while under emotional duress during the firing meeting/process. I am in the process of appealing my denial of unemployment benefits.

Asked on November 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you had an employment contract, whose terms were violated, or were discriminated against on the basis of race, religion, sex, age over 40, or disability, or were fired in retaliation for bringing a protected claim (like for FMLA leave, worker's comp, or overtime), your termination is almost certainly not wrongful. That is, it may be "wrong" in that is based on incorrect facts; however, without an employment contract, you are an employee at will and may be fired at any time, for any reason, even an unfair or incorrect one. Only if there was discrimination or retaliation as described above can employees at will claim wrongful termination, since otherwise they may be terminated literally "at will."

2) The fact that you were under emotional duress does not change thee fact that you signed a document admitting the theft; unless you can show you were completely mentally incompentent at the time, which is *highly* unlikely, you will most likely be held accountable for what you signed, meaning it is unlikely that you can win the appeal. In the future, if under emotional duress, just don't sign *anything*--wait until you've had a chance to think matters over.

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