On what grounds am I able to sue a company that I previously worked for if I was terminated on false charges?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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On what grounds am I able to sue a company that I previously worked for if I was terminated on false charges?

I was recently fired from a job where they claimed that I was using points in our rewards system to gain free merchandise. I did put points in there that I shouldn’t have but after they told me to stop the first time, I did stop and never touched the rewards machine again unless to put in points for a customer. They also drained the account of all the points put in there. However, recently they fired me because of the claims above but then added that on a day I was not scheduled to work nor did I leave my house that day that I used the points to redeem 2 free large pizzas. this claim is false and I know they don’t have evidence to support themselves on this claim. They are filing a police report on false charges and they don’t have any evidence of me stealing anything. What can I do to win this fight and when I win, will I be able to sue? They are also withholding money that I rightfully earned.

Asked on August 5, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) There is NO legal ground to sue an employer for being terminated due to "false charges" unless you were fired in violation of a written employment contract. The problem you have is, unless there was a written employment contract, you were an employee at will and could be terminated at any time, for any reason at all--even mistaken, factually incorrect, or false reasons. An employee at will has no rights to or guaranty of a job; you have a job only so long as your employer chooses to employ you, and once they want to terminate you, it does not matter why they do.
2) They cannot withhold money you earned, however; the law is clear that employees must be paid for all work done and that employee pay pay may only be withheld with employee consent (if the employee agrees to the withholding) or if there is a court order (like a wage garnishment order) for withholding. Otherwise, even if the employee were to owe the employer money for some reason, the employer can't just withhold pay--the employer would have to sue for the money.
Your most straightforward, quickest recourse to get the money you are owed is to sue the employer for it in small claims court (which is not just less expensive than other court, it is much faster) as your own attorney or "pro se."
3) If the authorities do file charges against you, remember that THEY must prove that you stole by "beyond a reasonable doubt," and if they can't do that, they can't convict you. You can present any evidence (such as proof of your whereabouts) to undercut their case.

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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