Can I get my job back if I was fired with no warning?

My wife was fired today. No warning. She is a sous chef in a golf country club. The
employee handbook states she must get 3 verbal and/or written notices. She never
got any. The chef who fired her just started working there about a month ago. She is
the only female chef there and so far is the only one who got fired.

She filed a complaint with HR about the chef treating her unfairly and cited some
examples. The HR was also a female and seemed to be empathetic and told her
she would keep an eye on the situation.

There are more nitty gritty details, but this is what generally happened. Does it
sound like my wife has a case and would she be able to get her job back?

Asked on April 26, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) It is possible that the employee handbook created enforceable policies or rules, but only IF there were no disclaimers or limitations in it. If the employee handbook contained any language to the effect that "all employmet is employment at will," "nothing in this handbook creates a right to employment or a contract of employment," or "policies herein may be changed at will," then nothing in the handbook is binding or enforceable--it's basically suggestions, or statements of what they usuallly do (but aren't required to). On the other thand, if there are no such qualifiers or limitations, then there may be an enforceale agreement or rules, and your wife may be able to sue for breach of contract.
2) The only female chef being fired, however, may be evidence of illegal sex-based discrimination. It is possible that it is not; there could be a valid, non-discriminatory reason for this, such as:
* Performance issues, if you wife had any performance problems;
* Personality conflict, if she just didn't get along with her new boss;
* Reduction in kitchen staff size, coupled with her having less seniority then the other non-bosses (and therefore being the logical one to let go)
* Etc.
So if there is a non-sex-based reason, then the fact that she is a woman does not convert this to illegal discrimination. But no such reasons have been put forward, apparently, so the initial (or "prima facie") case appears to be discriminatory. Your wife should speak to the federal EEOC or your state equal/civil rights agency: if they feel there  is something there, they may investigate for her, and if they do find discrimination, she may receiver her job back or at least get monetary compensation. Good luck.

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