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JB Umphrey
JB Umphrey, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20233
Experience:  Assisting employees and employers for over 14 years.
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Does an employee have any rights when he was fired for breaking

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Does an employee have any rights when he was fired for breaking a company policy when it can be proven that others have done the same? This employee was spoken too and suspended. Others where spoken to for the same reason but not suspended. The policy is black and white, however due to the cicumstances and dollar amount, some where suspended and some werent.
Welcome and thank you for your question!

It would be helpful to know:

1. Did the employee belong to a union?

2. Does the employee have a written contract that says they can only be fired for just cause?

3. Why was this employee treated differently than the other employees?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No Union


Maine is a at will employment state, I dont believe a contract exsists that says they can only be fired for just cause


The only reason I can think of that the employee was treated differently was because one case was a little more severe then the other. However policy is in black in white, with no written exceptions or severness.

Thank you. While the facts may be unfair, the key is that the employee is "at will." Thus, the underlying facts do not matter. Fairness is not required under the law when it comes to at-will employment decisions.

Most employees are at-will. The courts have explained it this way, "[a]nd it doesn't matter whether you have cause to terminate someone's employment. They are your employee at will and you can ask them to leave, fire them, at any time, for any reason, no matter how stellar their performance." An employer may discharge an at-will employee for good cause, for no cause, or for a cause that some might view as morally indefensible.

As an at-will employee, you have no legal right to continued employment. You can quit at any time. The employer can let you go at any time.

Because you are an at-will employee and because your employer has the right to let an at-will employee go at any time, there is no basis to sue the employer for wrongful termination.

Now, does this seem to be fair or just? Of course not.

 However, that is the nature of "at will" employment. You serve at the will or whim of an employer.

I know that this is not what you wanted to hear but you deserve a candid answer. I wish very much that I could offer you an answer that was more favorable to your circumstances, but the law seems to be pretty clear. Had I been able to provide an Answer which might have given you a successful outcome, it would have been my pleasure to do so.

I hope you understand.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have gotten anything less, please reply back. I am happy to address follow-up questions. Thank you for your business!

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So there is no basis for discrimination for at will employees?

It would be illegal discrimination if the employee was treated differently because of their race, gender, national origin, disability, color, pregnancy, etc.

Not all forms of different treatment are against the law.

Good question and point. I hope this helps to clarify things.

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So if they fired the employee that was single with no kids and did nothing to the employee that was married with 3 kids, there is no discrimination?

There is no illegal discrimination. That is key.

There's discrimination in the sense that the employees are treated differently but those actions do not violate any current employment laws.

~~ J.B.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So treating employees differently resulting in a termination does not violate any state or federal employment laws?

That is correct. It only violates the law if there's an illegal motive (e.g., race, gender, disability, etc.) The facts you've described are unfair but does not involve an illegal motive.

~~ J.B.
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