If I injured myself off work and was told through the whole process I would have my job waiting until I got returned but now they will not give me any shifts, what can I do?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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If I injured myself off work and was told through the whole process I would have my job waiting until I got returned but now they will not give me any shifts, what can I do?

I work for a non-corporate restaurant. I tore 2 ligaments in my knee at the beginning of the summer and was gone for 3 months on crutches. I kept in touch with my employer every step and was reassured the entire time that they would absolutely have my job there waiting so I could easily jump back into work to catch up on my bills. When I finally was cleared to go back to work as long as I waited two more weeks for readjusting, I brought my medical release from my doctor and got back in touch with my employer by phone. They told me they were short on shifts since it was still slow season, however they know I wasn’t on vacation or gone by choice like many other employees, so they would make sure I was taken care of. When the schedule that I was cleared to be on came out, my name was not on it for any shifts. I spoke to my manager when I noticed I wasn’t on the schedule and she claimed now that the people who were working all summer would be getting the first choice of shifts, followed by the people who came back from their summer long vacations. I spoke to the owner who told me she would take care of it and put me on the schedule for the following week. When the schedule for the following week came out I had one single lunch shift approximately a 50 shift and no other shifts for the entire week, while those same employees who were on vacation all summer are receiving 4 shifts and many of them dinner shifts 100-200 shifts. I know that Florida laws do not go out of their way to help the employee, but I’m wondering if I have any leg to stand on in this situation due to the fact that they reassured me I could come back no problem, other people who were simply on vacation are receiving a regular schedule, or any other reasons. I would have spent my 3 months ensuring I had a job to come back to, or even just the last few weeks after they were aware I was coming back had they not been so reassuring that I would receive shifts due to the lack of choice in my situation.

Asked on September 29, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Florida


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, since employment is "employment at will," there is no guaranty or right to a job or to get shifts--it's up to the employer's free choice who to employ, who to give shifts to and how many, etc. And because of employment at will, you can't assume you will have a job, and so there is not right to compensation if you fail to take steps to find a new job because you think you have a job waiting for you--employment at will ellminates your ability to count on having that job.
Since the employer is not required to put you on or give you shifts, especially after you have been out for several months, there most likely is nothing you can do in this situation. 
However, if you are not getting shifts, you may have been "constructively terminated," or effectively fired, and you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

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