How can I prove that I was fired illegally?

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How can I prove that I was fired illegally?

My last job used a verbal warning as a written to count as a 3rd write up to fire me for time and attendance. My manager, the one doing the verbal, told me it was nota written warning. So my benefits were denied with unemployment stating severe misconduct and a willful disregard for company policy. I plan to appeal the decision. What else would I need to do since they refused to give me copies of my employee file and am unable to prove that they used a verbal as a writeup?

Asked on June 11, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, New Jersey

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

1) If you did not have an employment contract, including a union agreement, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, with or without prior warnings (or with oral or verbal warnings). There is, essentially, no such thing as an illegal firing of an employee at will, since employers may fire them at will, unless the firing was due to the employee's membership in a protected category (e.g. fired on account of race, sex, religion age over 40, disability) or because of making a protected claim or complaint (e.g. a wage and hour or overtime complaint).

2) The empoyee's file belongs to the employer, not the employee. If you actually institute a lawsuit, you may be able to use the process of "discovery" to get access to it, but otherwise very possibly not not.

3)  If you vilolated company policy, then it probably doesn't matter--again, unless there is a contract to the contrary, including a union agreement--whether your last warning was oral or not; it would still likely be termination for cause.

You can consult with an employment lawyer to discuss the exact specifics of your situation, but if you were an employee at will, you have few rights and its unlikely that your firing was illegal.

3)


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