Can I be fired if company policy was not disclosed to me or properly carried out?

My part-time employer implemented a new “point system” (which was not correctly explained to me) whereby each employee is given 10 points for attendance during a 90 day period and 90 points for performance during a 90 day period. Each unexcused absence (even if you are sick) is a deduction of 3 points, being late a deduction of 1/2 a point. After the 1st absence, you are to be given a verbal warning. After the 2nd absence, you are to be given your final warning. After the 3rd absence, termination. I asked why no one had given me the verbal or final warning, her response, “I forgot.”

Asked on August 29, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, if you do not have a contract of employment, you are an employee at will and may be fired at any time, for any reason, without warnings.

The question may be, in your case, whether the disciplinary or point system you describe implicitly created an employment contract, at least in regards to the grounds and process for termination. So if the company said, without limitation or restriction, and without reserving for itself the right to keep treating you like employees at will, that the system you describe *will* be in place, making the system mandatory or required could act to obligate the company to follow that. If that's the case, they might not be able to fire you without all required warnings. It is easy to *not* do this--for example, if in putting out this system, the company's policy statements said that "nothing in this policy changes employee's employment at will status," or something similar, that is enough to keep from giving you mandatory rights; in that case, the system is just a set of guidelines. But if they neglected to put limitations in like this, the system may have given you some enforceable rights. You should consult with an employment attorney, who can evalute the situation, the employee handbook, any memos or documents about the point system, etc. and advise you as to your rights.


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