Can you get fired for following court orders?

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Can you get fired for following court orders?

There is an ongoing lawsuit between investors a female and a male. They had been to several hearings but on the 4th of October, they received an order from the judge. On the order it stated that all operations at our stadium would report to the male investors. Which on the contract the both investors signed had him designated as the manager of operations originally. However, since she didn’t like how he was doing his job she wanted to take over. We all followed the court order until their next hearing on the 31st of October. Some employees attended the court hearing as they were going to testify as witness. The court hearing didn’t end up happening since the judge was unavailable. 2 weeks later she fires everyone who followed the court order. Since the court order is still the same, we were told to ignore her and continue coming to work. We all have been coming and now we are not getting paid because she keeps telling us we got fired. Can we do anything? She fired the whole staff that worked at the stadium.

Asked on November 30, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

A court order only affects the people who were part of the case or lawsuit--it does not bind or affect anyone who was not named in the case as defendant or plaintiff. (The court only has power over the people in the case.) Therefore, other employees, who were not part of the case, could be terminated for following the order, since the order does not control what other people do or do not do. Therefore, it appears that the termination was legal.
However, if you did any work for which you were not paid, you could sue for the money: while you could be terminated, you must still be paid for all work you actually did. That said, IF you were told you were fired and should not be working but chose voluntarily to work anyway, then you don't have to be paid: the employer did not ask or want you to work, and you can't make her pay you by working against her will. If she chose to let you keep working, however, then you should be paid, and if she does not, as stated, you could sue; you would sue based on "breach of contract" (violating the agreement, even if only an oral one, under which you agree to work for pay) and for "unjust enrichment" (she is unfairly or unjustly enriched by voluntarily accepting your work without paying you for it). But again, if she told you to not work, that ends it--you can't work and be paid against her wishes.


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