Cary, NC asked in Employment Law and Criminal Law for North Carolina

Q: Can an employer accuse you of theftpurely based by video

I was stopped on my way out the store today when asked to show what i had in my bag and if i had a receipt i said no. They took the item from me and ws told i would be investigated

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1 Lawyer Answer
Dr. Jamie Cuticchia
Dr. Jamie Cuticchia
  • Raleigh, NC
  • Licensed in North Carolina

A: What an employer can do with respect to "investigate" is highly factual specific with respect to laws, company policies, etc.

In this situation, I am going to hit what I think is going to be the central focus of where this is going. Job security. NC is an incredibly pro-employer state. In NC, an employer can fire an employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all, so long as that reason isn't discriminatory. (That's the basics of the law.) Many employers have policy and procedures manuals, however it is very difficult to win a wrongful termination case based solely on the employer's failure to follow their own policies. However, the ESC does take those facts into strong consideration when deciding to award unemployment compensation.

There is an interesting NC example I like to share with clients. There was a case when an employer had the right to make their employees take random drug tests. An employee was given a test and it showed positive. The employee challenged the test and another independent test was done and it showed that the employee tested negative. Shortly thereafter, the employee was fired. The court held that it was within the right of the company to fire that employee anyway. The reason given was that if the employer had reason to believe the employee was a drug risk (which would have occurred AFTER the results of first test), that would be an acceptable reason for firing the employee. The fact that the test was incorrect, was irrelevant.

Your actions at this point may be part of what is ultimately decided for job status. In general, an employee who is accommodating and pleasant during an "investigation" should be more likely to avoid any negative job consequences.

There are two kinds of justice: moral justice and legal justice. Unfortunately, attorneys can only seek to provide the latter.

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