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John
John, Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Exclusively practice labor and employment law.
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In a right to work ( for less) state like Arizona, assuming

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In a right to work ( for less) state like Arizona, assuming a company has an employee handbook ...I have 2 questions
1)Can one be terminated for something that if in past cases folks were only given written or verbal warnings.
2) Can one be fired based on an investigation without presenting the terminated employee with any info from the investigation.. ( Others have observed..etc )

Or does one truly have no recourse in a right to work state,
Hi, My name is XXXXX XXXXX I’m happy to assist you with your question today.

I believe you are mixing up the terminology "right to work" with "at will" employment. Right to work states have laws that prohibit unions and employers from entering contracts that require all employees in a classification join the union. "At will" employment, on the other hand, means you can be disciplined or terminated for any reason that is not otherwise a violation of law. These exceptions are the civil rights protections (e.g., age, race, sex, religion), violations of public policy (e.g., fired for attending jury duty, for refusing to break the law, for reporting illegal activity by the employer (aka a "whistleblower violation"), or having some contractual right to a just cause employment (meaning the employer cannot terminate you without industrial due process - which basically insures a fair and accurate investigation and decision). Without any of these exceptions, courts find that the employer has a legitimate business right to operate its business however it sees fit and the court will not second-guess the employer. These policies and decisions may in fact be awful and clearly not fair or even make good business sense. However, they are not ultimately unlawful.

Some handbooks do in fact create a contract between employers and employees that requires the employer follow certain procedures in their discipline and discharge of the employee. Employers’ oral or written assurances regarding job tenure or disciplinary procedures can create an implied contract for employment under which the employer cannot terminate an employee without just cause and cannot take any other adverse employment action without following such procedures. Employers, however, can prevent written assurances (e.g., a policy in their handbook) from creating an implied contract by including a clear and unambiguous disclaimer characterizing those assurances as company policies that do not create contractual obligations.

The questions you specifically ask - whether the employer is bound by a past practice because it treated others in a particular matter or whether the employer has to provide the results of an investigation, would generally only be required if the employer unequivocally promised a just cause employment in their handbook, and as I've explained this rarely occurs these days. Thus, you should thoroughly review the handbook to see if it does give you the right to just cause, but I'm doubtful it does if the employer is at all legally sophisticated.

I believe this answers your question. However, if you need clarification or have follow-up questions regarding this matter, I will be happy to continue our conversation – simply reply to this answer. If you are otherwise satisfied with my response, please leave a positive rating as it is the only way I am able to get credit for my answers. Thank you, XXXXX XXXXX wish you all the best with this matter.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Yes I meant at will.....So it to the absurd I can fire you because I don't like how you part your hair in Arizona........I will give top rating to your reply

Vince, I understand. I think part of the issue is employees are largely not aware of the issue of at will employment. Most people think that if they go to work, follow the rules and give it their best they cannot be terminated. Otherwise, they'd demand some sort of guarantee from their employers. That's not the case. There are the limited protections of the civil rights laws etc. as I have explained, but if you run into a supervisor that just doesn't like you, then you can find yourself terminated without recourse....and there are numerous reasons a supervisor may dislike an employee that are not unlawful.
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