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Employment Law/Suspension with out proof



A couple of coworkers and I are being investigated on misconduct because the manager on duty mistook a bottle of water for alcohol. But not only did he not check the substance, he did not say anything at all to any of the workers before we left for the night. My coworkers and I were already off of the time clock and weren't working when he came upon us talking in the back of the building. Now it has been a week since I have given my statement but I have not heard any answer to these allegations. Since the manager didn't confiscate or even talk to any of us before we left what grounds do they have to keep me suspended without pay? How can I handle the company that is taking a long time to finish a simple investigation? I feel as if they already have us guilty instead of proving if we are. Can they leave all of us in the far for almost two weeks?


There is no state or federal law governing the time an employer may take investigating possible employee misconduct.  So, unless you are covered by a union contract or an individual employment contract which guarantees an investigation will be concluded within a specific period or within "a reasonable time", or something similar, they can take as long as they want.  It's not good practice to leave people in limbo for an exceedingly long time, but it's also important that an invetigation be done carefully and thoroughly, and the balance point between these two factors may differ from case to case.  I have seen some situations where the investigation takes months, and others can be conlcuded in a few days.  Without knowing exactly what the employer is thinking and what other facts they may be looking at, I can't really tell you whether two weeks or more seems reasonable in your case.  But as I noted earlier, that would just be my opinion, as there is no applicable legal standard to my knowledge.  My company operates in your state, so I am confident I would be aware if any such standard existed there.

I'm sorry I could not give you better news, but I hope this is 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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