Do I have a case to fight a termination when it has seemed like a personal issue?

I have worked as a server at the same restaurant for four
years and now that a new manager has come in I can do
nothing right. She has micromanaged everything that I do. I
have done nothing different from when I started and am one
of the leaders at the store. I was written up twice in one
night for doing what I thought was what she wanted done.
When we went back to the office and I got bullied into
signing the write ups I tried to explain my side and she
didn’t want to hear it. So instead of being belittled more I
said that I was sorry that she didn’t see what I was trying to
do and walked away. She claimed that was insubordination
and said that I need to talk to my GM to see if I still have a
job. I have never had anything but positive things about me
so this sudden retaliation seems personal and unwarranted.

Asked on June 19, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Wrongful termination has to do with a termination for certain specific reasons, the most prevalent possibly being legally actionable discrimination. That is, discrimination based on an employee's status in a "protected class". For example, based on their race, religion, age (over 40), disability and the like. Also, an employee is deemed to be wrongly terminated if their discharge was based on the violation of public policy (e.g. firing someone due to their being absent for jury duty, etc.) or on the violation of the terms of a union agreement or employment contract. Otherwise, while a supervisor's or co-worker's behavior may be rude or in some other way unprofessional, it is legal. Bottom line, not all employees need be treated the same or even fairly (absent discrimination as per the above). The fact is that most employment is "at will" which means that a company (including supervisors) can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes discharging an employee for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It may be personal; it may be unwarranted; but it is still legal. If you do not have a written employment contract for a definite term (e.g. a one-year contract) protecting or guarantying your employment, you are an "employee at will." An employee at will may be discriplined or even terminated at any time, for any reason, including simply that his/her manager does not like him/her. It doesn't matter whether the employee does good work or had great reviews in the past: that offers exactly zero or no protection if his/her manager chooses to discipline or terminate him/her. Based on what you write, you do not, unfortunately, have a case.


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