Can I be fired for finding my boss’s lost key?

UPDATED: Nov 22, 2011

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Can I be fired for finding my boss’s lost key?

I found the key to my workplace outside the store and took it home. Now they are saying I stole it when they lost it. I also even told my boss that I have the key and they did not believe me. I have worked for this company for 2 years and never stole anything and they are trying to fire me over one of the manager’s losing their key. Is it stealing if it is no longer in their store?

Asked on November 22, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Mississippi


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The issue unfortunately, isn't whether it actually is "stealing"--that is, it doesn't matter whether or not you did anything illegal or criminal. The problem is, unless you have an employment contract protecting your employment in some way (such as by setting out only limited grounds to fire you, or setting out some disciplinary process which must be followed), you can be fired at any time, for any reason, even an incorrect or unfair one. Therefore, if your employer chooses to fire you, unless you have an employment contract--or alternately, unless you can show that the firing was really based on discrimination against you because of your race, religion, sex, disability, or age over 40--you employer has the right to do this and terminate you.

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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