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Accused of embezzlement

Jake91196

Junior Member
#1
Hello all,

I am located in Michigan and I feel I may have a decent claim but I am looking for advice first. In mid 2016 I worked for a major pizza chain as a General Manager. When I was doing my initial training I began to notice a trend of the money count being off every night after close. However, because I was still training this did not fall on me, but on the managers that were in charge already. Fast forward a month or two and I started being accused via text message by the General Manager at the time for stealing the money out of the till. After a while I got sick of it and quit because I was tired of being blamed for something I did not do. Come to find out, one of the managers at the store ended up being charged with embezzlement($500-1000)and ended up being sentenced for it also. Mind you, I was making pretty good money and I would have stayed with the company for a long time given it didn't play out like it did, so this caused quit a financial impact on me. Is this grounds for a lawsuit?

Kind regards.
 
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not2cleverRed

Obvious Observer
#2
Hello all,

I am located in Michigan and I feel I may have a decent claim but I am looking for advice first. In mid 2016 I worked for a major pizza chain as a General Manager. When I was doing my initial training I began to notice a trend of the money count being off every night after close. However, because I was still training this did not fall on me, but on the managers that were in charge already. Fast forward a month or two and I started being accused via text message by the General Manager at the time for stealing the money out of the till. After a while I got sick of it and quit because I was tired of being blamed for something I did not do. Come to find out, one of the managers at the store ended up being charged with embezzlement($500-1000)and ended up being sentenced for it also. Mind you, I was making pretty good money and I would have stayed with the company for a long time given it didn't play out like it did, so this caused quit a financial impact on me. Do I have a possible case here?

Kind regards.
No. You do not have a case.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#4
Hello all,

I am located in Michigan and I feel I may have a decent claim but I am looking for advice first. In mid 2016 I worked for a major pizza chain as a General Manager. When I was doing my initial training I began to notice a trend of the money count being off every night after close. However, because I was still training this did not fall on me, but on the managers that were in charge already. Fast forward a month or two and I started being accused via text message by the General Manager at the time for stealing the money out of the till. After a while I got sick of it and quit because I was tired of being blamed for something I did not do. Come to find out, one of the managers at the store ended up being charged with embezzlement($500-1000)and ended up being sentenced for it also. Mind you, I was making pretty good money and I would have stayed with the company for a long time given it didn't play out like it did, so this caused quit a financial impact on me. Is this grounds for a lawsuit?

Kind regards.
Although falsely accusing someone of embezzlement would be defamatory, a text message to you from the General Manager - regardless of what is said in the message - cannot form the basis of a defamation claim. A defamatory statement must be communicated to more than just the person defamed for there to be harm to one's reputation.

In addition, there is a one year statute of limitations on defamation claims in Michigan so any defamation action based on a mid-2016 statement would be time-barred.

Here is a link to an overview of the law, published by the Digital Media Law Project: http://www.dmlp.org/legal-guide/michigan-defamation-law
 

FlyingRon

Senior Member
#5
Further, they're free to fire you even if you were never accused of stealing anything. Longevity with the company is no guarantee of continued employment.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#6
Further, they're free to fire you even if you were never accused of stealing anything. Longevity with the company is no guarantee of continued employment.
The only way Jake could have a defamation claim to consider is if a prospective employer calls the previous employer on a reference check and the previous employer states or implies that Jake left on suspicion of embezzlement.

But a smart employer will not say anything like that. :)
 
#7
Since someone else was later convicted of the crime it would be just not smart. It would be down right stupid.

But if the employer said, "He quit when we mistakenly thought he had embezzled and didn't stand up for himself." They would be 100% in the clear.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#8
Since someone else was later convicted of the crime it would be just not smart. It would be down right stupid.

But if the employer said, "He quit when we mistakenly thought he had embezzled and didn't stand up for himself." They would be 100% in the clear.
No. Not necessarily.

Any mention of embezzlement in connection with Jake's name can raise red flags for a prospective employer. If Jake is denied a position based on any false implications or statements of a crime made by the previous employer, the previous employer opens himself up to a lawsuit.

The previous employer is legally safest saying nothing but dates of employment.
 
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cbg

Scotch Egg
#9
The previous employer is legally safest saying nothing but dates of employment.
In THIS case, I agree.

But because there is so much confusion over this point on the internet, I do feel compelled to point out that employers in general are not required to stick to only dates of employment and there often can be good and valid reasons not to do so.

Despite what so many people mistakenly believe, no law in any state prohibits an employer from giving an honest and truthful reference, or one that represents their honestly held and supportable opinion. Even if that is a negative point of view. In no state is the employer held to dates of employment.

In this single, specific case I agree it would be wise for the employer to limit what they say. But that doesn't mean they're legally required to.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#10
In THIS case, I agree.

But because there is so much confusion over this point on the internet, I do feel compelled to point out that employers in general are not required to stick to only dates of employment and there often can be good and valid reasons not to do so.

Despite what so many people mistakenly believe, no law in any state prohibits an employer from giving an honest and truthful reference, or one that represents their honestly held and supportable opinion. Even if that is a negative point of view. In no state is the employer held to dates of employment.

In this single, specific case I agree it would be wise for the employer to limit what they say. But that doesn't mean they're legally required to.
There is no law in any state that prohibits anyone from publishing defamatory content, either. There are only laws that gives the one defamed a legal remedy.

What I have bolded above is what causes trouble for employers (and for everyone, for that matter). It is not always what is said (honestly held belief or not) but how what is said is received by others.

But we have discussed this many times on the forum before. I know we agree on the basics. I just don't trust that most people know how to express negative opinions without straying into false (and potentially defamatory) facts.
 

cbg

Scotch Egg
#11
We'll talk another time about how many successful lawsuits there have been when an employer gives a truthful but negative reference.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#12
We'll talk another time about how many successful lawsuits there have been when an employer gives a truthful but negative reference.
Even UNsuccessful suits are costly for the parties. ;)

Truthful negative references are not the problem. It will be false statements of fact, or opinions that state or imply false facts, that are problematic.

Here is a link to a good overview of potential issues with employer references, written by Linnea B. McCord, JD, MBA, titled, "Defamation vs. Negligent Referral:" https://gbr.pepperdine.edu/2010/08/defamation-vs-negligent-referral
 

cbg

Scotch Egg
#13
As far as I'm concerned, an employer who gives an untruthful or negligent reference deserves what they get. But we'll get into the whole argument another time. I can't muster the energy tonight.
 

quincy

Senior Member
#14
As far as I'm concerned, an employer who gives an untruthful or negligent reference deserves what they get. But we'll get into the whole argument another time. I can't muster the energy tonight.
There will no doubt be other threads in the future where such a discussion will be better held. And we both may have more energy for it then. :)