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I was recently fired for allegedly keying a coworker's vehicle, which I still strongly deny. Can they fire charges against me?

Los Angeles, CA |

I even saw the videotape which shows me walking by the vehicle on a break, but it doesn't show me keying the vehicle.

The only "evidence" that the employer has is that I did not get along with the coworker, and me walking by his car.

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Absent a written contract you are an "at will" employee and you can be terminated for anytime or any reason. This would not be an illegal reason for termination. The employer does not have to be right it just needs a good faith belief. I would focus my attention on looking for another job.

  2. Your question appears to be asking if the employer can file criminal charges against you. The answer is yes. Whether law enforcement would act on it will be determined by the strength of the evidence.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

  3. The employer can file a report with the police but it's hard to imagine a prosecutor pursuing such a small case, especially without any clear evidence of wrongdoing. The employee can file a civil suit against you for the property damage in Small Claims Court or Superior Court, and you will be stuck defending yourself. Given the small dollar amount involved, I suggest you wait and see what happens.

    By the way, I understand that what the courts view as a "small dollar amount" can still be greatly significant for any individual. But the costs of litigation are so high that it is highly unusual for any person, entity or agency to pursue litigation that costs more than could ever be recovered.

    @MikaSpencer * * * * * * PLEASE READ: All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. * * * No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. * * * Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis.

  4. The fact that the only evidence is surveillance which shows you "walking by the vehicle on a break" doesn't necessarily mean there's no basis for criminal charges. It depends where the car was, whether you had any reason to be walking over there (i.e. were you going out of your way into the back of the parking lot?) and whether anyone else is shown to have walked by as well.

    This answer is a general interpretation of the law and is not fact specific to your case. Likewise it does not create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek an attorney for a review of your specific facts and documents.

  5. Your employer may have policies and procedures in place for firing employees, such as requiring 2 warnings first, or write ups, or other rules, and if they did not follow those rules, you may have an issue about your wrongful termination. Otherwise, generally employers can fire "at will" employees for a variety of reasons that are not considered illegal. If charges are ultimately filed against you by your former employer and/or the former co-worker, retain a good criminal defense attorney (or civil attorney depending on the type of case filed against you) and keep track of all of your evidence to present for your defense. Good luck.

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