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Employment Law/force cancelled shift


Our unit in a hospital is overstaffed after opening another 11 beds that are now closed due to low census. What are my legal rights when I am called 2 hours before my shift begins to tell me to stay home because the census cannot support the number of nurses scheduled? I have been a nurse at this hospital for 34 yrs. My last full time paycheck was 16 hours short. I do not want to use up all my vacation time for fear of what lies ahead. Do I have any legal right in this matter. I live in Missouri.


I'm sorry to bear unpleasant news, but an employer can cancel your shift and not have to pay you any wages, at any time before you actually report to work, unless (a) you are covered by a union contract, (b) you have a personal employment contract, or (c) there is a written hospital policy, any of which provides otherwise.

Regarding the short paycheck, if you worked those 16 hours and have not been paid, you may have a legal claim against the employer.  Missouri is a very employer-friendly state when it comes to wage and hour laws, but you are still required to be paid at least the minimum wage for work actually performed, and wage deductions may only be made for certain reasons listed in the law.  Take a look at this web site maintained by the Missouri Division of Labor Standards for additional information, including information about how to file a wage claim:

I am assuming here that you are an hourly paid non-exempt employee.

I hope you find this helpful.  

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Frank C. Magill


I can answer questions about any U.S. labor or employment law question. I cannot answer questions about non-US law. I am not a specialist in employee benefit law (ERISA and HIPAA) or Workers' Compensation law, but will do my best to point questioners toward good resources availabe online. Expertise includes, without limitation, EEO/Affirmative Action/Employment discrimination (Title VII, Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Americans With Disabilities Act, GINA, Fair Credit Reporting Act as applied to employment); Fair Labor Standards Act; Texas labor code; Family Medical Leave Act; employee compensation; discipline and dismissal; force reductions, severance pay programs and administration; collective bargaining, union representation, grievances and arbitration, National Labor Relations Act and National Labor Relations Board; employee handbooks; staffing; dispute resolution outside of traditional labor agreements; employee communications; employment policies and compliance programs; codes of ethics; employment or labor litigation.


30+ years experience as corporate counsel for a Fortune 100 telecom company, specializing in labor and employment law issues. In addition to providing day-to-day advice to my company's internal HR leadership and staff, I've represented the company in numerous labor arbitration cases and at the bargaining table.

Texas, Illinois and Missouri state bars

J.D. 1979, Harvard Law School. B.A., Summa Cum Laude, 1976, Illinois Wesleyan University.

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