Q: Can a former employer force me to reimburse them for equipment that was stolen by a third party?
I was responsible for the equipment in question. I left a backpack with some company equipment in my car and someone broke my windows and stole it. My contract states that I assume responsibility for lost/damaged equipment, and can result in disciplinary action up to termination. They also said that they said in training/sent emails stating not to leave the backpack in the car. (Emails I no longer have access to). They said that's why it's considered negligence and are asking for roughly $4000. I know that employers can deduct pay in cases like this. I'm just unfamiliar with what they can do since I don't work for them anymore, so there's nothing to deduct. Any answers you can give are greatly appreciated!
A: If you no longer work there, then the only thing they can do is to sue you for the money.
A: You may get better answers from an employment lawyer as to what is or is not defensible in the context of employment law; however, assuming you had comprehensive auto insurance coverage on your vehicle, the theft of the items, and their fair market value, may be fully covered under your policy, less any deductible. You need a police report and detailed description of the items stolen. Obviously, if they sue you for the lost items, they would have to prove the dollar values of the items--they can't just say they're worth $4,000. They would also have to prove the used fair market value, not the brand new replacement value. They also cannot sue you for the cost of the items if they themselves submitted their own insurance claim under their business insurance policy and recovered the FMV of the items. Most businesses have standard insurance policies that cover things like theft, including employee theft and negligence. However, if their insurance company wanted to sue you to recover what they paid out on account of your negligence, then that is allowed.
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