A close corollary to this is, in business, you only have one reputation. If someone sullies your reputation, the dirt never washes off. George knows this lesson all too well as this story will tell. As the General Manager of Knight Printing and Graphics he greatly expanded the business. Knight Printing and Graphics does business as The 4 Elliotts, Inc. Maria and Elliott Scott own the business. Maria is CEO.
In a move that will ring familiar with readers, Maria hired a consultant. Soon afterwards, she decided to replace George as General Manager with the consultant. The company terminated George in 2016. Five months after terminating George, Maria compared the Quickbooks account for bookkeeping with the ADP program used for paying employees. She noticed a discrepancy.
A RUSH TO JUDGMENT
Without consulting the bookkeeper, Maria rushed to judgment, sure that George embezzled the money. She went straight to the police. Here is where the two stories diverge. The police stated Maria accused George of committing a crime by taking the money. Maria maintains she asked the police about the missing money and what to do. Either way, the end result was the same. The police arrested George at his new place of employment. Conveniently, George worked for a competitor of Knight Printing and Graphics.
After the police arrested George, Maria spoke with the bookkeeper to confirm her suspicions. The bookkeeper stated she did not know what happened and would need to investigate. Maria fired her on the spot and had security escort her from the premises. Bear in mind, at this point, no one bothered to see if George had committed a crime yet. In today's America, someone is presumed guilty until proven innocent.
In February 2017, the police entered George's current place of employment and left a card instructing him to call them. George called, but they refused to tell him the charges. George wanted to protect himself, so he hired a defense lawyer, Rad Deaton. His attorney arranged for him to turn himself into authorities on February 27th, 2017 at 5:30 in the morning at the Courthouse. George expected a simple and quiet process with an opportunity to clear his name. Instead, the police handcuffed him and drove him to jail. Bear in mind, there was still no evidence presented against him.
The police released him on a PR bond at 12:30 p.m., seven hours later.
While George was in jail, a Knight employee informed his new employer of his arrest. Within the week, another Knight employee emailed a mugshot of George to a client of George's new employer and Knight's competitor. The email stated George had been fired for embezzling.
Maria put a copy of his mugshot in his personnel file, confident she got her man.
JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED
In today's twenty-four hours news cycle, the first impression is often the only impression the public gets. An apology for wrongly accusing someone of a crime is rare. it is here we pick up the thread of the story.
The first person to examine the evidence was the judge. Once the judge heard the evidence against George, he dismissed the charges at the preliminary hearing. This moment is the first time someone looked at the evidence against George. In the interim, he lost his reputation, his new job, and his livelihood.
Here is some of the evidence proving George was no thief:
The bookkeeper testified at her deposition that if there was any overpayment, it was due to the rushed time frame and the failure to provide her the assistance she requested. She testified that even after she was fired, if they had sent her the files, she would have tried to figure out what happened with the books. She was sure George had not embezzled anything.
George wanted the American Dream. He wanted to be his own boss, so he started his own Sign and Graphic business, Walton Sign & Graphics, LLC. This dream will never come to fruition because the public thinks George is an embezzler. There is no evidence to prove it, but all you need to destroy someone's reputation is a baseless accusation.
IS THIS JUSTICE?
At mediation, we were ready to walk out several times. We think a jury would have come back with a significantly larger verdict at trial. But the case itself was a drain. It was aggressively defended by Young, Clement, Rivers. I figured if we settled, George could look forward, and not have to keep looking back at a bad experience.
I wanted George to be able to say, I am not a thief. "Maria and The 4 Elliotts’ insurance companies paid me X dollars,” and have it be enough to let people know there were no reasonable grounds to think he had embezzled. I figure $150,000 sufficed.
As any corporation would, they still deny any wrongdoing. We consider it as if they apologized 150,000 times.
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