Legal Question in Employment Law in North Carolina

Three Day Suspension

I run a printing press. We were running a new job and our Sales Manager was there to approve the job. She told four different times that she thought a color was to light, and I replied that it was where it needed to be. I finally made it darker and she left and went home. The next morning, she came in and said it was too dark. She told my supervisor that she did not tell me to make it darker, but I have witness that heard her tell me that. I was given a three day suspension from work for this and put on a 6 month probation. My bosses didn't seem to care that I had a witness that verified that she told me to do this. Is there anything I can do to get this action reversed and restore my good work record?

Asked on 11/26/02, 9:29 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

John Kirby Law Offices of John M. Kirby

Re: Three Day Suspension

We do not have all of the details regarding your employment situation (e.g. whether you have an employment contract), but it would seem that as a general matter, this is an "employment at will" state, which gives the employer tremendous authority to suspend, fire, demote etc. Unless the employer is discriminatory on the basis of, e.g., race, or unless you have an employment contract, or unless you are a government employee, you will usually have little recourse for this. (Similarly, you can leave the printing job whenever you want, for whatever reason! It works both ways.) The only legal ramification which comes to mind arising from the issue of "fault" is whether you would be entitled to unemployment benefits. My understanding is that if you were fired for some "cause," then you would not be entitled to unemployment benefits, but I do not know all of the parameters of this. In such a case (i.e. you get fired during this 6 month probationary period (whatever that means anyway)), then there could be some issue regarding whether you were fired for "fault" or "cause," and the existence of any witnesses would be relevant. As a general matter, your primary recourse in these situations is to express your position, try to make the best of it, and consider hitting the pavement. Good luck.

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Answered on 12/08/02, 4:20 pm

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