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  • wrongful termination Texas

    I worked as an exempt employee for a retailer at the Headquarters in Texas.
    One morning my boss asked me to join him in a meeting, which turned out to be with Loss prevention. After the meeting I was suspended and subsequently terminated 5 days later.

    Here is what transpired in the meeting:

    I have been accused of stealing large amounts of highly confidential data and since I did not admit to doing it, I was terminated. They tried to pressure me and coerce me to admit that I did it, sign a document to that effect and I might, might be able to save my job. I refused to do so and was subsequently suspended.

    Here are the actual facts:

    I was in the office on a Sunday evening (stupid, I know) in July and a female coworker of mine in a different department who was there the same time, called me and asked me if she could back-up her work on MY department's server, because her's was unstable and she had incidents where she could not get to her data due to server issues. I said, sure, put it on there and put it in my folder. I never copied, transmitted, opened, read, looked at or did anything with the data. It was roughly 2Gig of data.
    The data sat in the shared drive folder (freely accessible to anybody, not password protected or anything, just like on her server) for over 90 days. They know that I never accessed the files.
    But, because she quit the following week because she was not given the promotion she was promised months ago, I am now an accomplice to her "devious scheme to defraud our employer"

    I want my job back. I did not nothing illegal, nor did I ever access the data. In the worst case, it was a lapse in judgment and I should have interrogated her as to why she wants to back up the data, but is that a reason for termination.

    My questions are:

    If they fire me for the theft of the data and I can prove in court I did not, is that wrongful termination?
    What constitutes wrongful termination?
    How do I get my job back?

    Thanks for your help...
    Last edited by timmer1001; 10-09-2007, 06:27 PM. Reason: clarity

  • #2
    Wrongful termination means there is a violation of law like discrimination sex, race, religion etc. That didnt happen here. Furthermore Texas is an "at will" State which means you can be terminated at any time for any or no reason. Your best option is just look for another job
    http://www.parentnook.com/forum/

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    • #3
      I agree - no illegal termination here. You were not terminated for one of the protected by law categories (age, gender, religion, etc.)
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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      • #4
        As indicated, a wrongful termination does not mean that you were fired for something you did not do; it means you were termed for a reason prohibited by law.

        So no, this was not a wrongful termination. You can only get your job back if your employer is willing to give it to you; nothing in the law is going to force them to do so.
        The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the fast responses, wow...

          What about these reasons?
          * Breach of implied contract
          * Breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing
          * Defamation


          In my limited research I found that these arguments MIGHT apply as an exception to the Doctrine of at-will employment.

          Do I have a shot here?

          If nothing else, I want the documents of this so-called investigation so I can better understand what happened and why it happened. Can I subpoena information without filing a lawsuit?

          Thanks

          Comment


          • #6
            You can talk to a lawyer about it but from what you posted, I'm not seeing anything that looks like any of those charges. You did something that you should not have. They are allowed to terminate you for it. It may be overkill, but just being an overreaction (assuming it is one) is not illegal. If it had been inventory from that other store that you allowed to be kept at your store without anyone's permission or knowledge would you still feel it was unfair to hold you responsible? Did you even have a contract, implied or otherwise?

            How have you been defamed?
            I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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            • #7
              The data that was backed up on my department's server was marketing information. I did not work in Marketing and had no need for the information and never accessed it. The only reason it was backed up was to protect the company since we had server issues before. The intent was to benefit the employer.

              I do not have a contract, but I thought internal policies are binding both ways and if the company has a termination process policy, it should follow it.

              The company is saying that I stole data with intent to profit from it by selling it to competitors. Calling me a thief without any proof sounds like defamation to me, but maybe it's okay do this in Texas.

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              • #8
                The intent was to benefit the employer.
                You can't prove intent! However it can be proved you had data on your workstation you shouldnt have.
                http://www.parentnook.com/forum/

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                • #9
                  Doesn't it matter that the data was NOT on my workstation, laptop, PC, harddrive or CD?
                  It was residing on a departmental server where I never accessed it.

                  All I did was tell the colleague, sure put it on there.

                  And isn't my statement and the colleagues statement that this was the intent sufficient to prove intent? If I had the data on my home computer or print-outs in my briefcase, sure, but I did nothing with the data in 90 days. Why do they think I would do something now?

                  I am confused as to why this is breaking the law...

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by timmer1001 View Post
                    What about these reasons?
                    * Breach of implied contract
                    * Breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing
                    * Defamation
                    My understand based on a January 2001 Labor Law Review article that Texas does not support the Implied-Contract Exception or Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing exceptions. Many of the various exceptions to Employment-At-Will are very state law specific. Texas does support the Public Policy exception, although I do not see how that applies here.

                    I agree with the other responders that nothing you said sounds very likely as a sucessful cause of action, although certainly check with a local attorney if that is what you want to do.
                    "Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away".
                    Philip K. **** (1928-1982)

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                    • #11
                      And isn't my statement and the colleagues statement that this was the intent sufficient to prove intent?
                      No! Now don't get me wrong I am not saying your lieing but it could be said that was your excuse. Honestly your better opff putting your focus on looking for new job its not likely you will get anywhere with this and if you do it will be costly and time consuming
                      http://www.parentnook.com/forum/

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by timmer1001 View Post
                        The data that was backed up on my department's server was marketing information. I did not work in Marketing and had no need for the information and never accessed it. The only reason it was backed up was to protect the company since we had server issues before. The intent was to benefit the employer.

                        I do not have a contract, but I thought internal policies are binding both ways and if the company has a termination process policy, it should follow it.

                        The company is saying that I stole data with intent to profit from it by selling it to competitors. Calling me a thief without any proof sounds like defamation to me, but maybe it's okay do this in Texas.
                        You have to admit, having information from an employee who has left the company that contains marketing information which is highly proprietary, in a folder on your server with your name on it looks suspicious at best. At best this was a very poor judgement call. Whether you accessed the info or not, you allowed it to be put where anyone could access it. Bad move.

                        Who have they told that you stole the data? If they just accused you, that isn't defamation. If they honestly believe you stole the info and not that an employee who is no longer there gave it to you for safe keeping, it isn't defamation to say that is the case. If they share with others outside the organization that it was your intent to sell it for profit and don't qualify that it is their belief that was your intent, it might be. It isn't defamation if it is true or what they honestly believe to be true.
                        I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          At what point in time is possession of corporate data a crime?
                          I assume that corporate policies do not matter in this case if the legal system gets involved. I may violate corporate policies and get terminated for that, yet have not broken any laws, right?

                          Now, if I take files home that I created, with the intent of working with them over the weekend and there is a business argument why I have these files, can the company construe this as theft of confidential data?
                          Am I required to search my computers for any business files and erase them after I left the company?

                          Do they need to specify what data is confidential and which data is not?
                          Even if I had confidential information after I left the company, does that constitute damages to the employer, even if I did not do anything with the data?

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                          • #14
                            Honestly, all those questions are better asked of an attorney.
                            I don't respond to Private Messages unless the moderator specifically refers you to me for that purpose. Thank you.

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                            • #15
                              Without addressing points already addressed. Your employer can terminate you for any or no reason long as it violates no law. there was no law broken in your termination.
                              http://www.parentnook.com/forum/

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