What to do if your wrongfully accused of stealing and fired as a result?

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What to do if your wrongfully accused of stealing and fired as a result?

My mother was arrested and fired from her job yesterday for being accused of stealing. Her ex-boss’s proof is my mother caught on tape scratching lottery tickets (that she bought). Her register was never short of any money. The only wrong thing she has did was to scratch the tickets she bought while working (she did not know that she could not scratch or buy them while working). Being fired and arrested over this seems to be wrong. Today another employee was told not to come back to work because an investigation was being done for this employee scratching lottery tickets as well.

Asked on September 16, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Louisiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If your mother had an employment contract which set forth limited grounds for being fired, or a process for termination or discipline, the terms of that contract are enforceable and it may protect you mother. Unfortunately, however, if she does not have such a contract, she is an employee at will, and as an employee at will, she may be fired at any time, for any reason, even an unfair or incorrect one. Therefore, it not matter if your mother was wrongfully accused, or if she did not know that she could not scratch or buy lotery tickets while working--she could still be fired if her employer wants to fire her.

As to being arrested: your mother should contact a criminal defense attorney to help her, and should not speak to the authorities about the matter until she does. If the employer had reasonable grounds (e.g. the videotape) to think that she may have stolen, there would not be any liability against the employer for reporting her to the police--though she may still be able to defend herself from the criminal charges. Good luck.


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