Can an employer relieve an employee if they did not initially do a background check the first week of employment and waited 4 months later and then fire the employee?

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Can an employer relieve an employee if they did not initially do a background check the first week of employment and waited 4 months later and then fire the employee?

I have been working for my employer for 4 months. We signed all the e-doc paperwork that stated they do background checks, we’re 1099 an so forth, but instead of conducting the background check like I thought they did the first week they just did it about 3 weeks ago and I have already been working for 4 months. I wanted to know if a company could legally relieve you from your basically contract position if they are the ones that chose not to run the background check before allowing me to be an employee and allowing me to work for 4 months and send me an email stating I do not meet their requirements. Sounds like a lawsuit but I am not jumping to conclusions.

Asked on July 7, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

"Allowing" you to work for 4 months is legally irrelevant: unless you had a written employment contract which limited the reasons or way you could be fired, you were an employee at will and could be terminated at any time for any reason whatsover, including a delayed background check. (Also, look at this way: you got to get 4 months of pay which you might not otherwise have received.)
The only real issue is whether you had an enforceable contract. An enforceable employment contract must be in writing and must place limitations on termination--whether by limiting the reasons you could be terminated, or requiring a certain process, or stating you are employed for a certain length/period of time (unless you commit an act which allows termination "for cause," like violating supervisor instructions or company policy). If you have a contract limiting how or why you could be terminated and you were terminated in violation of its terms, you could file a "breach of contract" lawsuit to seek compensation for the wrongful termination. 
But without a written contract like the one described above, you could be terminated for this reason, even after 4 months.


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