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My employer is accusing me of stealing . I have denied all accusations. Can they fire me without proof? Can I sue if they do?

New Bedford, MA |
Attorney answers 4


Assuming you are an at-will employee, your employee can fire you if it suspects you of stealing, even if such suspicion is baseless. However, if its true motivation is your race or gender or some other protective characteristic, the employer cannot use the theft claim as a pretext for unlawful discrimination.

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I agree with Attorney Harrington that your employer is allowed to terminate you for almost any reason (as long as its not unlawful such as discrimination) if you are an at will employee. That being said, depending on your company, there may be a grievance procedure outlined in your employee handbook (if you have one). You may want to look there first to see if there is someone else who you can explain your side of the story to. If there is an HR department, you could also seek out someone in that department for assistance.

However, if your employer is a small employer without a handbook or HR department, you may be out of luck. Good luck dealing with this situation. If your employer is treating you like this, it may be best to start looking for a new position anyways.

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I'm sorry you are dealing with this difficult situation. Massachusetts is an at-will employment jurisdiction, which means that an employer can fire you for any reason or no reason at all as long as you do not have an employment contract (for a specific term) and your termination was not the basis of discrimination (handicap, race, gender, etc.). Even if you are terminated, you may be able to collect unemployment benefits. I suggest you consult with an employment law attorney to better explain your rights to you. Good luck.

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I agree with Attorneys Harrington, Callahan and Taylor and would encourage you to try to obtain at least 2 “no charge” “no obligation” consults with locally-based employment attorneys. Those of us who regularly answer questions posted here on AVVO are an excellent place for you to start your search for local counsel. The bottom line here from my perspective is that it's always wise to invest time in an effort to become an "informed" consumer of legal service. Good luck and best regards, Rob Fortgang - Employment Law Attorneys serving Massachusetts and Connecticut / 800-932-6457 /email- / website-

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