Do I have any recourse to being suspended?

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Do I have any recourse to being suspended?

I was suspended in a disciplinary action from a complaint made from a friend of a patient that was admitted into our emergency room. This person was yelling, demanding entrance, cursing, implying violence towards me or my co workers if his demands were not met. This person over heard me tell the nursing staff that I thought he was on drugs and to be careful around him. The situation was explained in detail to my manager and Human Resources manager. I was suspended for 3 days without pay. Hospital policy and discipline procedures were not followed. What can I do?

Asked on July 15, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, if you don't actually have a written employment contract or a union agreement which prohibits suspending you for this reason or requires that they follow some procedure to suspend you, there is likely nothing you can do: in the absence of a written agreement, your employment is employment at will, and an employer can suspend you at any time, for any reason, without pay. You can attempt to argue that the policies in any employee handbook or employment manual effectively create a  contract, but most often, they do not--it takes very clear policies, with no exceptions, and no language anywhere in the handbook, etc. to the effect that the handbook does not create a contract or that all employment remains employment at will, to potentially create contractual protections. It would not be an easy legal action to bring to show that a handbook, etc. creates an enforceable contract, and may well not be worth the time, effort, or cost for 3 days of pay, especially given that the chance of success if not necessarily good. 
If you do have a written contract, you can sue to enforce it's terms (for the 3 days pay) for "breach of contract."
If there is a union agreement covering your job, follow the procedures in the agreement for a situation like this.


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