Wrongfull termination

I believe I was recently wrongfully terminated. I was an assistant store manager for a corp. I made the decision to give 2 of my employees and myself gratis (free items that vendors provide the company) that had been expired. None of my immediate supervisors were in the state thay were all in conference and that would leave myself as the next in charge so I made the decision to give the gratis. As we 3 were leaving the store we were approached by a loss pervention manager in the parking lot and told we had to have him subject us to a bag check. When he saw the gratis he asked what and why and who and I explained as I did above,he said he needed to investigate took the gratis items and a few days later I received a phone call from the district manager that I was to be terminated because gratis left the store without permission. I feel I was wrongfully terminated 1 because I believe I had the right to distribute the gratis I was the only one in charge therefore I can make that decision and 2 I dont believe anyone has the right to legally search anyone outside of work especially not in the parking lot and not without your permission. Do I have any legall chance of taking them to court or would it be a waste of my time? Thank you

2 answers  |  asked Jun 10, 2008 7:52 PM [EST]  |  applies to Arizona

Answers (2)

Francis Fanning
Termination without cause is not wrongful termination

Your recitation of the facts seems to assume two things. First, it assumes that because you may have the authority to allow subordinates to take gratis merchandise you can give yourself permission as well. Second, it assumes that the employer did not have a good reason to terminate you and that therefore your termination was wrongful. But unless you have a written contract that says otherwise, your employment is terminable at will, that is with or without cause. So even if the employer's reason for terminating you was trivial, that does not make it wrongful.
The question of invasion of privacy requires consideration of facts you haven't included. For example, if the merchandise was in a store bag, the invasion is probably not unreasonable. Many retailers subject customers to such examination as they are leaving the premises. The fact that you were in the parking lot rather than in the store does not by itself determine whether the search rose to the level of an invasion of your privacy. Arizona has a statute, ARS 13-1805 that grants merchants a privilege to detain suspected shoplifters under certain conditions. While detention and search are two different issues, it is not likely that your claim of invasion of privacy would survive in court. In Koepnick v. Sears Roebuck & Co., 762 P.2d 609, 158 Ariz. 322 (Ariz. App., 1988), a suspected shoplifter was stopped in the parking lot, detained for forty five minutes and his car was searched. The trial court rejected a claim of invasion of privacy but allowed other claims to go to a jury. After the jury returned a large verdict, the judge granted a new trial because he had erroneously allowed the jury to consider matters that weren't supported by the law and evidence. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court's decision. This case illustrates the difficulty of pursuing a claim in this kind of situation.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jun 11, 2008 1:09 PM [EST]
Francis Fanning
Termination without cause is not wrongful

Your recitation of the facts seems to assume two things. First, it assumes that because you may have the authority to allow subordinates to take gratis merchandise you can give yourself permission as well. Second, it assumes that the employer did not have a good reason to terminate you and that therefore your termination was wrongful. But unless you have a written contract that says otherwise, your employment is terminable at will, that is with or without cause. So even if the employer's reason for terminating you was trivial, that does not make it wrongful.
The question of invasion of privacy requires consideration of facts you haven't included. For example, if the merchandise was in a store bag, the invasion is probably not unreasonable. Many retailers subject customers to such examination as they are leaving the premises. The fact that you were in the parking lot rather than in the store does not by itself determine whether the search rose to the level of an invasion of your privacy.

posted by Francis Fanning  |  Jun 11, 2008 12:35 PM [EST]

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