Is a suspension/termination legal under these circumstances having not been notified?

I work in a pretty crummy restaurant and during the summer, the A/C never seems to work correctly. Unfortunately this means all employees and patrons are drenched in their own sweat. Most leave obviously, due to being uncomfortable. Anyway, having a hectic night trying to turn chaos into order as a waiter, I made several demands of my kitchen staff to promptly deliver my food as timing was getting ridiculous and the patrons were not happy. In doing so, the chef approached me aggressively and placed his hands on me to get my attention. He then proceeded to tell me not to talk to anyone in the kitchen and go through him. Having been irritated already, I addressed him with vulgarity and told him to back out of my personal space and not to put his hands on me. He carried on and so went a back and forth for a period of time. Later in the night, I was approached by the manager and I told him exactly how I felt about the situation in general. I was touched when I did not want to be touched and was yelled at in an aggressive manner by someone who is not a supervisor of me. We parted ways but I was never told anything would result from this, as it happens often. Today I checked my schedule and I have zero scheduled days this week. I have no idea if that indicates termination or suspension. No one mentioned it, no one said anything post-manager conversation. What are my rights here? Should I contact my local labor board? Is it legal to be punished for being assaulted/berrated and just responding like a normal person would?

Asked on May 29, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


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

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unless you have protection against this action under the terms of a union agreement or employment contract, your suspension (and possible termination) is legal. The fact is that most employment is "at will". This means that a business can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit (absent some form of legally actionable discrimination). This includes why to suspend or fire a worker. Actually, an employee can be suspended and/or discharged for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice.

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