I was wrongly fired for supposedly stealing money from the restaurant that I worked at, can I make the company prove what they say?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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I was wrongly fired for supposedly stealing money from the restaurant that I worked at, can I make the company prove what they say?

I was fired at the end of my shift. I was given no warning; I had no idea. Other employees knew it was going to happen and never said a word. It was premeditated but my check wasn’t ready for 48 hours. If I was stealing, why wouldn’t they fire me when it happened? I never stole a thing from the workplace. I’ve been slandered. How do I get my good name back?

Asked on July 27, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Oregon


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless you had a written employment contract for a definite term (e.g. a one-year contract) which was not  yet expired and which by its plain terms prevented you from being fired in this way, you could be terminated: except to the extent prevented by a still-in-effect written employment contract, an employee may be terminated at any time, for any reason, even unproven allegations.
2) That they waited to fire you is irrelevant; not firing you on the spot does prevent them from terminating you. They can terminate you whenever they wish.
3) IF the employer told other people that you stole when you did not, you could potentially sue them for defamation: for making false factual statements about you to others which damage your reputation. If you do sue on  this basis, they will have a chance to present their evidence that you did steal--if they show that it is more likely than not that you stole, you would lose your defamation case.
If they only told you that the reason was stealing, and other employees only knew you were being fired but because of alleged stealing, there was no defamation: only false factual statements made to other people, not directly to you, might be defamation.
If you want to explore a defamation lawsuit, speak to a personal injury attorney to see how strong it is and what it may be worth.

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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