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I was recently let go from work via text message under the guise of "reallocation of labor hours." I had never been written up or anything of that sort. That being said, I was entrusted with a key to the store (it is a small business) over a year ago and the whole thing was prompted by the store manager text messaging me asking me for my key back randomly, which led to the "reallocation of labor hours" excuse.

I had already been in contact with the owner of said store stating that I will return the key when I can find the time to make it into the store as my office chair that I brought from home is there. The store manager messages me out of nowhere a week later threatening that if I do not return the key within a week, that they will be forced to buy new locks and I will be liable for billing of said process. For further painting of this picture, I was handed this key a year ago without ever signing anything and a policy does not exist in regards to this in what is loosely referred to as an employee manual. Harassment and poor management aside, am I liable to have to pay for the changed locks if I, for whatever reason, do not return said key? While this is not my intention, I am curious to know what my rights are.

closed as off-topic by Dan Pichelman, DarkCygnus, David K, Dukeling, IDrinkandIKnowThings Oct 10 '17 at 19:33

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Questions seeking advice on company-specific regulations, agreements, or policies should be directed to your manager or HR department. Questions that address only a specific company or position are of limited use to future visitors. Questions seeking legal advice should be directed to legal professionals. For more information, click here." – Dan Pichelman, DarkCygnus, David K, Dukeling, IDrinkandIKnowThings
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This question will most likely be closed as it is asking for advice on legal topics specific to your company and your contract. These sorts of questions are better asked to a lawyer, not us. – David K Oct 10 '17 at 19:10
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    From a security perspective, a missing key requires changing locks. You're the cause of the missing key, so why do you think you wouldn't be responsible for the costs of changing locks? The key presumably belongs to your employer, not to you. – Dukeling Oct 10 '17 at 19:18
  • As per a previous discussion with the owner of the store. I have every intention of returning the key and no willingness to draw this out further. I was just taken aback by the aggressiveness of the text messages from the store manager (two seperate people) and curious if they could charge me like the store manager threatened. – Richie Oct 10 '17 at 19:25
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    Anytime a key-holding employee leaves the company the locks should be changed, regardless of whether the key is returned. A business just doesn't know whether that key got copied at some point while the person legitimately possessed it. This is at the company's discretion and therefore should be at the company's expense. Don't give keys to people you might easily fire. – Kent A. Oct 10 '17 at 19:34
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    "The key is in the mail" - not really, is it? You should have returned it in person and have a written receipt stating who returned which key when and to whom. (This would be standard procedure where I live AFAIK) Sometimes you'll also have to sign a statement saying something along you didn't make copies of the key(s) and returned all relevant keys you had. – Fildor Oct 11 '17 at 7:41
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This seems really company specific. However, given that you are not working there anymore and nothing specifies in your contract about the lock change, I think you are not forced to cover those expenses. Seems like it is an attempt (lame one) to make you hurry up returning the key.

However, regarding the key they gave you it seems that it is actually company property (most surely they paid the key copy), so in that case you most surely are obliged to return it when you are dismissed or quit. As mentioned in comments, this delay in returning the key could imply certain actions or expenses from part of the company, so it would be wise to hurry up and return it.

Besides, I think there is no use for you to still have that copy so I suggest you return it ASAP to prevent further inconveniences from this situation (and also to reclaim your chair).

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    They might be able to claim that the changed locks is a cost caused by the OP retaining their property. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 10 '17 at 19:10
  • Yes they might but is still quite ambiguous to claim that (nothing stops them from buying deluxe locks just because), thats why the OP should hurry in returning the key. I guess if they take any claims depends on each company. – DarkCygnus Oct 10 '17 at 19:13
  • As per a previous discussion with the owner of the store. I have every intention of returning the key and no willingness to draw this out further. I was just taken aback by the aggressiveness of the text messages from the store manager (two seperate people) and curious if they could charge me like the store manager threatened. – Richie Oct 10 '17 at 19:26
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    @GrayCygnus I suspect a small claims court would limit them to necessary expenses due to the loss of a key, and not allow them to charge for upgrading their locks. – Patricia Shanahan Oct 10 '17 at 22:28

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