Paid Admin Leave

I have worked for this company for 18 years as a clinical pharmacist. My job involves adjusting patients medication dose over the phone. Back in Feb 2016, I signed up for a website that provides answers to questions like this one. I did not think anything of it as I was able to see really interesting questions which in turn could benefit my company by my professional growth. Unfortunately, the part I did not realize was that online answering questions was a PAID service. I was getting paid 6 to 9 per answered question. I answered 3 to 4 questions while on the clock for my company since Feb, 2016. Each question might have taken less than a minute. They have done an IT search on my computer and stated I have violated company’s policy and it was a conflict of interest. I did not need the money by answering questions as my company pays me very well. My intent was to grow professionally and think critically in different scenarios. I have a very clean record up until now. They put me on Paid Admin Leave and took my ID badge away. I am a union employee and represented by a shop steward. I am super freaked out and afraid to lose my job. I am considered one the most efficient employee and it shows in my annual evals. I hardly ever stay over time as I am caught up 30 minutes before my shift ends. I also consistently offer help to my colleagues with their work.
Please advise as to what recourse I have at this point?
Kind regards,

Asked on September 4, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The answer to your question can be found in your union or collective bargaining contract, which you presumably have if you are a union employee. Any rights you have in this situation can be found in your union contract, under the headings or subjects or topics of discipline and termation. If you have a contract which lays out a discripinary process which must be followed, or limits the types of discoipline you can be subjected to, or limits the grounds for termination, you can enforce those provisions, if necessary, in court: the employer cannot take action against you in contravention of your contract. However, if you do not have a union/collective bargaining contract or other written employment agreement, or if you do, but it does not address this situation, you do not have any rights: employment in this contrary is "employment at will" except when, and only to the extent that, there is a contract to the contrary. In the absence of contractual protections, you may be discipined, or even terminated, for any reason, at any time, without recourse. Therefore, you have to review your contract(s) to see what protections, if any, you have.


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