WV employer is refusing to give my equipment back after termination

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WV employer is refusing to give my equipment back after termination

I was fired and I have expensive large pieces of equipment that my employer is not giving back he helped me load and bring them to his shop when I was hired a year ago. In one weeks time I was verbally told he was out of town on Saturday and he would call me to discuss the following Monday. He never called, so I called Monday and was told to give him until Friday and he would offer me a fair price to keep the equipment, as this equipment is needed for the daily operations and the new employee is using my stuff as evidenced by pictures that are being posted on the company fb page. Friday comes, no call, so I text employer recapping our conversation on Monday, he replies 2 hours later via text and is saying he and his customer

are going to speak with an attorney as he’s accusing me of borrowing money from a customer, which is actually my friend and has nothing to do with my work. I asked via text if he was now

refusing to give said equipment back and he has not replied to my written question. To me, this is theft. He is making all sorts of allegations about me now that I’m hearing and seeing on fb before he blocked me. What can I do? My employer knows all the cops in our area so I feel if I go to the police my employer will be told right away. It’s considered a

Asked on July 23, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, West Virginia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Sue him: that's how you recover items (or the value thereof) that are taken by another. You would sue him for theft and/or conversion (a form of theft, in which property left in another's keeping is then "converted," or taken personally, by them). You can settle the lawsuit (if the former employer is willing) with the return of your equipment. 
If he tries to take legal action against you on spurious (false) grounds, in addition to defending against the cause(s) of action, you could countersue him for "malicious use of process"--or for using the legal process for improper or illegal ends.
If he has made negative and false public accusations against you, you could sue him for defamation.
If there are several cause of action or claims, all can be settled simultaneously; just make sure to get the settlement agreement in writing.
While your concern about the "good ol' boy" network is understandable, ultimately, either you take action to protect your rights or not--there is no middle ground.


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