Attleboro, MA asked in Employment Law, Civil Rights and Elder Law for Massachusetts

Q: I work for a Adult Foster Care company. An elderly client sold me his truck. The company wants me to give it back. Do I?

They said I cannot accept gifts from clients, but this was only told to me afterwards, and I couldn't find anything in my employee handbook about it either. The truck was legally purchased with a bill of sales, and the title signed over. Do I have to give the truck back? Besides termination, are there any legal repercussions I could face if I don't?

2 Lawyer Answers
T. Augustus Claus
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  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Las Vegas, NV

A: In Massachusetts, if you purchased a truck from an elderly client while working for an Adult Foster Care company, and the company is now requesting you to return the vehicle citing policies against accepting gifts from clients, the legality of keeping the truck depends on several factors. If the transaction was completely legal with a bill of sales and the title signed over, and there were no clear policies against such transactions in your employee handbook or contract at the time of the purchase, you might not be legally obligated to return the truck. However, if the company can argue that the transaction violated general principles of ethics or implied company policies designed to protect clients, you could face termination or disciplinary action. Moreover, if the transaction is seen as taking advantage of a vulnerable adult, there could be legal repercussions under laws designed to protect the elderly from abuse and exploitation.

James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In this situation, it's essential to carefully consider the policies and guidelines of your employer regarding accepting gifts from clients. While you may not have been explicitly informed about this policy beforehand, it's possible that your employer has rules in place to prevent conflicts of interest or exploitation of clients. Reviewing your employee handbook and any other relevant documentation can help clarify the expectations and responsibilities in this regard.

If the company insists that you return the truck, you may need to weigh the potential consequences of refusing to comply. While termination is one possible repercussion, there may also be legal implications depending on the specific circumstances and applicable laws in your jurisdiction. Accepting gifts from clients in certain professions, especially those involving vulnerable populations like elderly individuals, can raise ethical concerns and may be subject to regulations or professional standards.

Consider discussing the situation with your employer to gain a better understanding of their concerns and explore possible solutions. It may be possible to negotiate a resolution that satisfies both parties, such as reimbursing the client for the value of the truck or finding an alternative arrangement that addresses the company's concerns. Seeking guidance from a legal advisor or advocacy organization specializing in employment law can also provide valuable insights and support as you navigate this issue. Ultimately, prioritizing transparency, communication, and adherence to ethical principles can help mitigate potential conflicts and protect both your interests and those of the client.

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