If I was recently suspended at work for what they claim was a violation of their hostile workplace policy, how can I dispute this?

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If I was recently suspended at work for what they claim was a violation of their hostile workplace policy, how can I dispute this?

I was never given any warning, and asked to explain why I should or should not be suspended. It is a high profile company, and the suspension was not justified. I told HR just 2 weeks prior that I might need medical leave due to cancer. It was an ambush. What should I do?

Asked on July 8, 2015 under Employment Labor Law, Colorado

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Leaving aside the issue for medical leave for one moment: as a general rule, unless you have a written employment contract protecting your employment or limiting the reasons you could be terminated, you are an employee at will. That means you may be fired--or anything short of fired, such as demoted, suspended, transferred, hours cut, etc.--at any time for any reason, even mistaken or unfair reasons. So if there was not the issue of your notice that you might need leave, your company could clearly suspend you if they wanted.

However, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees due to disabilities, and the definition of "disability" can take in other serious medical conditions (like cancer) not traditionally thought of as "disabilities" per se. If the suspension occured shortly after providing notice that you might need medical leave, it is possible that this represents illegal discrimination against an employee on the basis of a disability. You are advised to consult in detail with an employment law attorney, who can evaluate this situation and advise you of your rights and recourse. Many attorneys provide a free initial consultation; you can inquire into this before making the appointment.


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