Can my employer terminate me for tardiness without a previous written warning?

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Can my employer terminate me for tardiness without a previous written warning?

Last year my wife fell ill. I was forced to apply for intermittent FMLA and I was approved. The accounting department overpaid me for unpaid leave taken under FMLA. Around this time there was a change in management. The new manager believed I was at fault for the over-payments and formally wrote me up. At least 6 months later I was fired immediately following the completion of a wage garnishment. The reason given “excessive absences and tardiness”. I was never written up for attendance or tardiness.

Asked on December 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oklahoma

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, unless you have a contract of some sort to the contrary, you may be fired at any time, for any reason, including tardiness, and there is no requirement for prior warnings or write ups. That could be limited if you have a very strong employee or policy handbook at work, which lays out a process of progressive discipline under which you have to get warnings first. If you do have such a policy at work, you should consult with an employment attorney to see if it is sufficiently strong and will help you.

You should also consult with an employment law attorney because retaliating against someone for using FMLA leave is illegal, so if you could show that this may be what's happening, you may have a cause of action.


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