What actions can I take after being placed of suspension for an issue that I had no knowledge of?

I work for Amazon and was recently placed on suspension do to a time card error. Upon hire, the only advice given to my team was to clock-in at start of shift, clock out for lunch, In after lunch and out at end of shift. Simple enough. However, when it came to missed punches and forgetting to update your time card, we were told to fix it ourselves and remember the time to our closest capability. I had done that, spoken with HR numerous times over the past 2 years about my time and nothing has ever been brought to my attention until 2 weeks ago. I had made a mistake I had failed to correct on a day I had taken voluntary time off from work. The HR representative running my case treated me critically and had accused me of stealing time I had no knowledge of even doing. She had deleted my punch without my knowledge, and made it look as if I had been on the clock to receive guaranteed pay for a day I wasn’t even in the building. She escalated the issue and claims to have found multiple incidents on my punch card time line, again none of which was brought to my attention. She has fired and made other fellow co-workers quit and even they feel cheated out of a job we take pride in. Amazon is currently over staffed at our location, longer termed associates such as myself and many others get paid more than new hires would, so as they are finding new and different reasons to fire people, they are offering to hire more. Amazon is notoriously known for bringing in new hires and letting go of loose ends. I personally feel cheated out of my job because no one had done their job in HR to raise awareness to associate problems such as my own. She claims that I had been making these mistakes since I was hired. If that is the case I feel I wasn’t trained properly on how to use the system and what steps I needed to take to prevent time card mistakes. I was also told that my case manager had until Saterday March 9th 2019 to hear my case status. I heard nothing so reached out to my local HR manager and was told not to contact while off the clock. I don’t know what I should do in this situation because I feel that I had done nothing wrong and would not intentionally do something that would risk my employment and future within the company.

Asked on March 11, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, there are only two real questions:
1) Did you have a written employment contract (or were subject to a union or collective bargaining agreement) which protects you in some way from termination in this situation? If you did, you have whatever rights or protections the contract gives you, which can be enforced in court (by a "breach of contract" lawsuit. 
But without such a contract, you are an "employee at will" and an employee at will has no rights to or protection for his/her job; he or she can be suspended or terminated at any time, for any reason, even for a minor or inadvertant error or issue.
If you were an employee at will, then the only other issue would be:
2) Were you targeted due to a protected class, category, or characteristic, chief of which were race, color, national origin, age 40 or over, sex, religion, or disability? (or in CA, also marital status, gender orientation or expression, sexual orientation, or genetics/ancestry)? The law bars treating people worse or differently because of specifically protected characteristics. If you believe the evidence--such as the pattern of who is disciplined or terminated, vs. who is not--shows that the employer is targetign people due to one of these characteristics, you should contact your state's Dept. of Fair Employment & Housing to file a complaint.
But if you don't have a written contract and were not discriminated against, you would have no recourse.


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