What doI do ifI get fired or my hours get cut back at work after getting assaulted by an ex-employee?

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What doI do ifI get fired or my hours get cut back at work after getting assaulted by an ex-employee?

I saw an employee steal food at work asked her to throw it away. She ran outside and I followed her. I then stood behind the car she was in so she could not leave the driver of the car (ex-employee) got out of the car shoved me back on my chest grabbed my arms and pushed me back more. He then told the person in the passenger side to get out and move the car the guy that grabbed my arms shoved me back again, so his friend could drive the car away. Now I’m am being told the employee that stole still has her job and I was told not to go into work for the past 2 days. My hours are cut back so I will quit.

Asked on October 2, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Utah

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You may not have recourse; if you do not have an employment contract, you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason, even bad or unfair reasons--like favoring an employee who was taking food. (Though note: it's not necessarily unreasonable to take some disciplinary action against you: your actions, while presumably well-intentioned, put your employer at considerable risk of liability if you or one of the other people were injured in the altercation; for example, if while trying to stop a food theft, you caused another person to be hurt, both you and your employer could potentially have been sued.) Therefore, even if this is unfair, it is most  likely legal if you don't have an employment contract. (If you do have an employment contract, you can enforce its terms in regards to how, when, and why you could be terminated or disciplined.)


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