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Marsha411JD, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 19682
Experience:  Licensed Attorney with 29 yrs. exp in Employment Law
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I work in an at-will employment state (Alabama). I was recently

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I work in an at-will employment state (Alabama). I was recently terminated, and I believe that it was unjust. My termination letter states that I was terminated for poor performance, but I was told (verbally) by the interim supervisor that I was terminated because of my attitude about working overtime. When I was hired, my job description did not mention anything about working mandatory overtime, and it was not required to do my job. I had worked overtime, but was no longer able to do so. I was still working within my probationary 90 day period as well. The interim supervisor had informed me 5 days prior at a meeting that because I had not received proper training or department orientation, that she and one of my senior co-workers would work on giving me proper orientation, and she would extend my 90 day probation, so that my performance review would reflect my performance after proper training and orientation. That was on a Tuesday. The following Monday, I was terminated. I had never received a written or verbal reprimand for poor performance before, and it simply is not true that I did not perform my work to the best of my ability consistently while I was working. Do you think I have a case? I am considering contacting a lawyer, and this all occurred a month ago. Thank you, XXXXX

Thank you for the information and your question. Just for clarification, were you still technically inside your 90 day probationary period when you were let go. If not, what does your former employer's policies say about termination after that 90 day probationary period?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I Believe I was still within my 90 day probationary period. I began working full time in March, but I believe it should have been up by then. I am really uncertain. The handbook doesn't say anything about termination after the 90 day probation period, except that I cannot violate any policies, which I did not do.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

No, I apologize, I was still within my probationary period, which lasts 6 months. The handbook states that I may be terminated at any time for any reason or no reason during my probationary period, and that I will not be granted appeal rights if I am terminated.

Hello again Minnie and thank you for your reply. As you correctly stated, Alabama is an employment "at will" state. That means that an employer may terminate an employee for any, or no, reason and with no notice or warning unless the termination would violate an employment contract, company policy or employment discrimination law. That also means that unless the employee's situation falls within one of the exceptions I mentioned the employer can terminate the employee even if the reason is unfair, inaccurate or otherwise misguided.

So, assuming that you were either still within your 90 probation,which is clearly "at will," or you were outside that period but your employer still followed the "at will" rules, then even if the words used as a reason for terminating you didn't sound accurate, you could still be let go. Your employer might differ with you as to whether or not refusal to work overtime is a performance issue, and that might be an issue for you to raise should you have to apply for unemployment benefits. However, whether it was one reason or the other, it wouldn't matter under the "at will" rules.

One additional issue I wanted to address was the mandatory overtime. Unless an employee has a signed employment contract that contains all of the terms and conditions of employment, including hours of work, and it is for a specific term, the employer always has the right to mandate overtime, even if their initial information about the job underestimated or even stated no overtime.

If you believe that you were outside the 90 probationary period and you could find an employer policy that states employees may only be terminated for cause after that point, then you might have a wrongful termination claim. Otherwise, there wouldn't be anything in the facts you provided that would support that position.

Please let me know if you need any clarification. I would be glad to assist you further if I can.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you for your answer. So, I really do not have a case whether I am within my probationary period or not, unless there was some form of discrimination or retaliation involved?

You're welcome. You would only have a case if you are outside your 90 day probation period and company policies give nonprobationary employees more rights to retention and/or warnings/stepped discipline or you were targeted for termination because you are a member of a protected class under employment discrimination laws.
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Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Okay, Thank you very much for your help.

You're welcome and best of luck to you.

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