can employer deviate from company policy, and cba.

I was absent for medical reasons. upon my return my employer assessed points for each day, contrary to the policy that we could use three days at any time for any reason in order to reduce points. His reason was cause he said so. HR rep said that the policy did not allow me to use time that way, which is untrue. I am african-american and I know white, latino, native american employees were allowed to use their time according to the policy. This employer also ‘cashed in’ my time without my request and paid me, but I didn’t benefit from the point reduction and then fired me because I violated the attendance policy by acquiring too many points. I was allowed one of the three discretionary vacation days. Is this a violation of Section 1981?

Asked on March 13, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, North Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

There are two separate issues:
1) Can an employer deviate from its own policies as a general matter? Yes: those policies are the employer's own voluntary choice, and they can chose to alter or not follow them at will, unless--and only if--the policies were embodied in a written employment contract for a defined or set period of time (like a one-year contract) which has not yet expired; policies contained within a contract may be enforced in court by a "breach of contract" lawsuit as any other contract may be enforeced or sued over.
2) Can an employer treat a minority employee differently simply because he or she is a minority, and not due to some non-racially based reason (such as the employee's actions or behavior)? No--the law prohibits racial discrimination, as you are evidently aware. You apear to be having difficulty with the procedural elements of the complaint (how to properly submit and formulate it): you should consult with an employment law attorney, who can evaluate your claim (how strong it is, what it may be worth, etc.) and help you if you decide to move forward. Good luck.


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