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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12801
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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My sister has been discharged from her employment as a pre-kindergarten

Customer Question

My sister has been discharged from her employment as a pre-kindergarten teacher. She was discharged on the basis that she was causing harm to the children. Her employer has denied access to specific information on her behaviors or results of the investigation that they undertook to come to this decision. Does she have rights to that information? (You probably hear claims of innocence all the time and so are skeptical, but she would NEVER intentionally harm the children and is not aware of the children being harmed by any accidental behavior on her part; she has been in the field for almost 20 years and with current employer for 15. She has no memory of anything happening on the day the behaviors were alleged to have occurred; allegations came from two 8th graders who were assisting in the classroom; apparently they communicated their concern the same day they said behaviors occurred; they reported that she shoved a child into the wall so he bumped his head, purposely dropped a toy on a child and pulled other children by the arms. If the school was concerned about harm to these children, why did they not come to look at the children?) No grounds for discrimination; in Florida (at-will state). This is a horrible smear on her record. Anything she can do to fight the unfounded claim? Parents of children in the classroom have started a petition in support of her as a great teacher. My sister has nothing to do with the petition; she just heard about it.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am so sorry to hear about these unfounded allegations. Legally speaking, there would not typically be anything that she could do to fight this, assuming her employment is at will and assuming you does not believe her employer has an ulterior discriminatory motive such as race. These assumptions in place, employers can terminate the employment relationship for any reason, including an unfair or untrue reason, or even for no reason at all. The above noted, it costs employers time and money to hire replacements and so employers generally have no incentive to terminate employees for illegitimate reasons. It hurts their business to do so. Thus, while employers generally don't "have" to be fair or rely on correct information, they usually do because it is in their own interest to. What this means is that your sister can try to persuade her employer to see things differently. The parent petition is one way to do that. Providing a written rebuttal of the allegations is another. If the students who made the report had any reason to lie or exaggerate that should be brought to the school's attention as well. Ultimately, though, your sister's only power is the power of persuasion. She is not entitled to a formal investigation or "due process" or a hearing of any kind. Just as she could quit without any notice or reason, her employer can terminate for the same. I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. 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.