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Employment Law/Multiple Write Up in one counseling


My question is about getting multiple write ups in one sit down with my boss.  Here's what happened.  I was really sick and called out a couple days.  I came back to work and then got sick again.  Being sick two separate times qualifys you for an informal warning or verbal warning.  Then a week later my boss saw me with my cell phone out.  Well today I came into work and my boss sat me down and he said I need you to sign this informal warning for poor performance because you had your cell phone out and that is a policy violation.  And since you got this informal now your calling out twice is now a written warning so sign this written warning.  My question is,  is that legal to string multiple infractions without giving ample time to correct the behavior?  So if my boss wanted to he could just hold off on 4 infractions and fire me?  What should I do?  Thanks for your time.

John - Unfortunately, employers are free to discipline or terminate employees in whatever way they choose unless there is a written employment agreement that states a different discipline procedure.  The only exception is if the discipline or termination is on account of a "suspect classification" - race, religion, gender, etc.  The doctrine of "at-will" employment, which is the rule in 49 out of 50 states, says that employers and employees can terminate their employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason at all.  A written employment contract or collective bargaining agreement replaces at-will with specific terms, but the vast majority of employees have neither.  

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Margaret M. deMarteleire


I can answer most questions about employment law, federal or state. I am an attorney, not an HR professional, so questions about HR careers, coursework, prospects, etc. are not within my scope.


Attorney for 20 years, currently working exclusively with employment law - FLSA, FMLA, federal contracts, pay, etc.

Temple University School of Liberal Arts, BA, Rhetoric & Communication, 1982 Temple University School of Law, JD, 1990 Certificate in HR, Cornell University ILR School, 2006

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