If I was fired from my job and cannot get my personal belongings, how can I get them back?

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If I was fired from my job and cannot get my personal belongings, how can I get them back?

I was recently terminated from my job. I received notification via text message at 10:55 pm that evening while out of town on vacation with no explanation. I was only told that I was receiving a letter via certified mail that would explain more. The letter also gave no explanation. I have talked to numerous other employees about my termination and they have said I am being accused of some things that are not true at all. However, my main problem and question is that I have approximately $2500 worth of my personal property that was in the store after I was terminated and I have not been given a chance to collect my belongings. I can not physically go to the store because I have been told I will be prosecuted for trespassing. How can I get my stuff back? Do I possibly have a case for wrongful termination?

Asked on May 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Four different issues are presented by your question:

1) Do they have a right to keep your personal belongings? No--you *must* be given all personal property back.

2) How do you get your belongings back? Your former employer can keep you from entering its premises, but if it does that, it must provide some other way for you to get your property--for example, meeting you at the front door with your belongings; shipping them back to you; etc.

If the company will not return your property, you could sue the company for its return and/or for its value--you would be suing essentially for a form of theft, since it is theft to keep property which does not belong to you.

3) Do you have a case for wrongful termination? Most likely not, unless you had an employment contract which limited the grounds or procedure for termination. Without a contract, you would be an employee at will, and an employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason--even an incorrect or unfair one.

4) If someone is making untrue factual statements (not opinions--it has to be factual statements, like a claim that you stole when you did not, or that you violated a non-fraternization or other company policy if you didn't) about you to co-workers or supervisors which has damaged your reputation, you may have a defamation claim against that person. If you think this is the case, you should speak with an personal injury law attorney.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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