Can you be fired for time clock fraud if you made an honest mistake?

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Can you be fired for time clock fraud if you made an honest mistake?

I was accused of time clock fraud at work and fired. What happened was that I would take my 45 minute lunch (clock in and clock out like I was supposed to) and some days since I did not take a 15 minute break after I worked 3 or 4 hours I would take it right after my lunch. I was told by my manager that it was against time policy to combine both breaks and to write a statement of what I did and for how long. Which I did since I was afraid of losing my job. She told me she would send the statement to HR and let me know. I did not know that I could not do that. I have never in 8 years been in trouble

Asked on June 8, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you don't have an employment contract (including a union agreement) protecting your employment and/or setting forth the conditions or procedure under which you may be fired, then you are an employee at will. An employee at will, as the term implies, may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever. That, unfortunately, includes violating either labor laws or regulations of which you were no aware, or indeed, simply doing things that management disapproves of even if not illegal...or e.ven simply because someone in management, for no good reason, wants to fire you. So unfortunately, if you are an employee at will, you may be terminated for this, or essentially any other reason, and only work there as long as the company wants you to. On the other hand, if there is a contract or union agreement, you need to look to its terms...the contract's provisions will control


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