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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 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.


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