Can I be held responsible for another co-worker losing her assigned master keys just because I borrowed them prior to her loss?

UPDATED: Jan 18, 2012

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Can I be held responsible for another co-worker losing her assigned master keys just because I borrowed them prior to her loss?

The employee was in one workroom washing something in sink. I needed to get into rm next to it approximately 8 ft away and didn’t have my own set. I had been on job 3 weeks and my many requests to obtain my own set to work with had yet to be taken care of. I asked to borrow keys just for a second to open next door. My co-worker said OK so I took the keys which she had hanging in the doorknob of the room that she was in. I walked to the next room 8 ft away, unlocked the door and left it ajar. I then went straight back to the room where my co-worker was and as I put them back on doorknob where she had them. I made sure to tell her they were there.

Asked on January 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you do not have an employment contract, you are an employee at will. An employee at will could be terminated at any time, for any reason--so, for example, your employer could choose to terminate you over the lost keys. Furthermore, since the employer could terminate you, it could take any steps short of termination to punish or discipline you--such as demote you, suspend you, write you up, etc. If you do have a contract, on the other hand, its terms in regard to termination and discipline are enforceable.

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 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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