Is it legal for a employer to throw away personal belongings of a current employee without permission?

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Is it legal for a employer to throw away personal belongings of a current employee without permission?

I work at a gas station; mandatory shirts to wear. I changed shirts for work and forgot the other shirt at work. I put in the office but my boss threw away. Another time he gave a shirt away to a co-worker. I don’t believe he can do that.

Asked on November 5, 2010 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Legally, no--someone is not allowed to throw away or give away your property UNLESS there is clear notice that that's a term of employment; for example, your boss could make it a policy that everynight, any personal belongings left in the office are thrown out or given away. As long as that policy is announced, it's perfectly legal--odd and unfair, but legal--since employees may quit if they don't want to work under it.

Even without a policy, however, your boss did not necessarily do anything wrong if he legitimately thought the shirts were abandoned--someone had left them and wasn't coming back for them. If he knew they were yours, then yes, he acted improperly.


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