Can work just take me off the schedule without telling mewhy Iwas fired or laid off?

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Can work just take me off the schedule without telling mewhy Iwas fired or laid off?

I have worked for my company for almost a year. I was hired for part-time but always worked full-time hours. Approximately 4 months ago I got a new supervisor. He decided to slowly start reducing my hours. Last week I got down to 5 hours. I asked what the problem was but his response was that he didn’t have the hours to give me. However he just hired a full-timer and another part-timer. At no point was I fired or laid off, yet I am not on the schedule. What can I do legally?

Asked on April 17, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

First of all, as for reducing your work hours, your employer's actions are legal.  That is unless you have an employment contract, union agreement, or company policy that specifically prohibits such action.  In "at will" employment (and most employment is), an employer cannot only hire/fire employees as it wants (for any reason or no reason), it can also increase/decrease salary/hours, promote/demote, and generally impose requirements as it sees fit.   

Additionally, as for having no hours currently, you may or may not be entitled to unemployment benefits if this situation continues.  There are clearly times when not having work for a short period would not be considered being "constructively" terminated (e.g. losing several shifts). On the other hand, there are clearly times when not having work for prolonged periods would be considered being fired, no matter what the employer said (e.g. not working for a month or more).


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