I work in the photo dept at Walgreens. While on the clock I made a photo book for myself. As I was finishing the manager asked what I was doing, I answered honestly and he told me I couldn't. Do that. Three hours later I was called into the office and suspended for the rest of my shift. They told me that I had commited time theft, and they would call me tomorrow to let me know if I could come back to work tomorrow . I asked if I was fired and they said they didn't know yet. Can they legally fire me without any prior incidents? What can I do to protect my job? I need help please! I don't know what to do, and I'm scared. I have been there over a year, but have one write up for not adhearing to conpany policy.
Please help me, I have a little girl to care for.
3 Answers from Attorneys
I realize that this is a difficult situation, but your employer does not need prior incidents of alleged misconduct before terminating an employee. There is nothing that gives you a legal right to keep your job. The best you can do is to show contrition and try to make amends for your mistake.
Best of luck to you.
I agree with Mr. Perry's response above. The way that I like to explain it is that an employer may terminate employment for any reason under the sun ("time theft" for instance) except if the decision is based, actually or pre-textually, on an illegal reason - breach of contract or some kind of discrimination (sex, gender, race, age, disability, retaliation, for instance). I don't see any reason to suspect that 1) there was a contract; 2) any discrimination. As Mr. Perry stated above, let them know that you value your job through an apology and your conduct. If you suspect there was breach of contract or discrimination speak to an attorney to get a better feel for your rights. Best of luck to you!
As an at-will employee, just as you can quit at any time for any reason, your employer can fire you at any time for any lawful reason (not based on a protected class - age, gender, religion, pregnancy, medical condition, race, etc.) or for assserting your legal rights (example: overtime pay) or if you were a whistleblower (example: called the IRS to advise that company not paying taxes, etc.). No warning or reason need be provided when an employer fires an employee. If you get fired, they must pay your final paycheck on the same day, including any earned and unused vacation time or PTO. If they don't timely pay you, you may be entilted to one day's pay for each day you have to wait to get your final check - up to 30 days PLUS your attorneys' fees.
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