Was I fairly fired? Defamation/false termination

I was an assistant manager at a chain store. This passed Sunday night someone stole money from a box I hid in the stockroom which is the stores safe fund and went out the back door. When I came in Monday I was taken into the office and got on the phone with the area loss prevention manager. Telling me that they know I stole the money and I could avoid charges by repaying it. I tried to plead my innocence but they placed me on unpaid suspension pending investigation. He then asked to have the phone handed to the district manager which I did. Right after that I laid my keys on the desk, grabbed my backpack and left the building. Of course I was upset for being accused of something I didn’t do but I did not act out in any way. The next day was a 3 hour police interrogation and I also signed a waiver for them to go through my phone, then I agreed to be scheduled for a polygraph next week. Today I called the DM to ask what needed to happen to reinstate my employment and he told me that I can’t come back because I walked out on the job. Now I’ve lost my job and name tarnished all over something I didn’t even do. Is this legal?

Asked on June 30, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Arkansas

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless this action violated the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, it was legal. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". This means that an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Basically in such an arrangement, a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). On a side note, you really should consider consulting with a criminal defense attorney before being questioned by the police and submitting to a polygraph.


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