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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11286
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My son was a bartender at restaurant. The manager of the bar

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My son was a bartender at restaurant. The manager of the bar has really been on his case recently. She singles him out with new "corporate rules" such as his fiancé can't come and have a drink while he is working (for which she always pays) but that is not said of anyone else. Anyway, she has really been treating him terribly recently. Last night a table of regulars (men over the age of 50) came in to have drinks. My son did not card them-which is company policy; however, he has seen their ids many times. She reprimanded him for that. Later a table walked out on a tab of $170.00 dollars which she expected him to pay right then. He did not have the money and she fired him. Others have been allowed to pay large walk out tabs. She did not give him that option. He did lose it and curse at her. After he left, she told people he stole the money. Do we have any recourse? He has a one year old at home and NEEDS his job. Thanks.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome. I am very sorry to hear about your son's situation.
As far as legal recourse is concerned his options are going to be very limited. This is because employment in the state of Texas is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.
So, it would not be illegal to terminate your son based on the false belief that he stole. It also would not be illegal to terminate your son based on his violation of corporate policies, even if those policies were not enforced the same way against other employees.
The one potential basis for a legal claim would be if your son could prove that he was terminated specifically for failing to reimburse his employer for the table that skipped out on their tab. This is because it is illegal to take money from an employee to cover this sort of employer loss. So, retaliation for failing to do something illegal would be against the law.
The tremendous challenge your son will face is in proving that THIS, and not the suspected theft, not the violation of corporate rules, and not anything else, was the reason he was let go. You can bet his employer will site all of those things in defense of a wrongful termination claim on this ground. Then, it will be up to the "finder of fact" to decide if your son still would have been terminated if he had not failed to pay for the tab.
What makes this all even more difficult is that there is no administrative agency that is set up to hear this sort of claim. Your son needs to file a lawsuit, and a lawsuit on these facts is unlikely to attract an attorney willing to work on a contingency fee basis because it is far too high risk. This means that your son will likely be tasked with suing his employer without the assistance of an attorney (almost impossible to do successfully) or paying an attorney hourly to pursue the case. Still, your son may wish to at least "shop" around his case looking for counsel on a contingency fee basis. Just because I say it's unlikely he'll have any takers doesn't mean it's impossible. See here to locate an attorney in your area who might be able to help: http://lawyers.findlaw.com/lawyer/practicestate/employment-law-employee/texas
I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. However, I am trying to be realistic with you and provide you with honest information that will actually be of use to you. It would be counterproductive if I were to give you false hopes simply for the sake of providing good news.
Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further. If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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