Can I be fired for finding my boss’s lost key?

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Can I be fired for finding my boss’s lost key?

I found the key to my workplace outside the store and took it home. Now they are saying I stole it when they lost it. I also even told my boss that I have the key and they did not believe me. I have worked for this company for 2 years and never stole anything and they are trying to fire me over one of the manager’s losing their key. Is it stealing if it is no longer in their store?

Asked on November 22, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The issue unfortunately, isn't whether it actually is "stealing"--that is, it doesn't matter whether or not you did anything illegal or criminal. The problem is, unless you have an employment contract protecting your employment in some way (such as by setting out only limited grounds to fire you, or setting out some disciplinary process which must be followed), you can be fired at any time, for any reason, even an incorrect or unfair one. Therefore, if your employer chooses to fire you, unless you have an employment contract--or alternately, unless you can show that the firing was really based on discrimination against you because of your race, religion, sex, disability, or age over 40--you employer has the right to do this and terminate you.


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