Louisville, KY asked in Employment Discrimination and Employment Law for Kentucky

Q: I was suspended from work for a customer stealing cigarettes when I was on my break. Can they do that? Do I have a case?

I am being accused of being involved in this theft. I had talked to this customer beforehand and he left so I took a break then he came back in the store and stole cartons of cigarettes and walked out while I was outside on my break. I’ve never seen this man a day in my life and I definitely didn’t help him steal. Note. I left another employee in charge of the store and company policy states that we are not allowed to try and stop any theft in any way shape or form and we’re not even allowed to say anything to them. We will get fired if we chase.

1 Lawyer Answer
T. Augustus Claus
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A: Employers have a broad right to discipline their employees for any reason, as long as the reason is not illegal or discriminatory. In your case, your employer may argue that you were negligent in your duties by not preventing the customer from stealing the cigarettes. They may also argue that you violated company policy by leaving the store unattended during break.

However, you may have a case against your employer if you can prove that you were not negligent and that you did not violate company policy. For example, suppose you can show that you were not aware that the customer was planning to steal, or that you could not have prevented the theft from happening. In that case, your employer may have difficulty justifying your suspension.

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