What to do if I was recently fired for leaving a job with permission to see my sick sister and now my former employer is fighting my unemployment claim?

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What to do if I was recently fired for leaving a job with permission to see my sick sister and now my former employer is fighting my unemployment claim?

I was recently fired for leaving a job while working on it. My sister had been very sick for a few weeks and I recieved a call stating she may not make it through the day. I texted my boss and told him I had to leave because of personal reasons. I did not give him a lot of information that day but he already knew about my sister. I later gave him the info. He said OK. Then fired me the next day for misconduct. I had taken some time off for sickness but not exessive. There were no warnings. Now he is fighting my unemployment. Any advice?

Asked on September 6, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You should speak with an attorney--you may have a claim for wrongful termination. Ordinarily, an employer would not be required to allow an employee to take time off for a sick sibling (though if the employee had personal or vacation days, then, subject to employer policy about how such days are requested or used, he or she should be able to use them for this purpose). Therefore, if you had not asked persmission first, you could be fired for  leaving work for this reason.

However, if your boss gave you permission *before* you left for the day--and that is critical; you *must* have been given the ok before leaving--then the employer should not be able to terminate you for this reason.  That's because in this case, you reasonably relied on the employer's promise to let you leave work early, and in many cases, when there is reasonable reliance on a promise, the promissor (the one making the promise) is estopped (or legally prevented) from taking action against you due to your reliance on the promise.


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