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Justice24_7

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Timeless Frames hired my father for a full time position about a month ago. During his hiring interview they told him what his pay would be and what he would be doing. The day he started he found out that he was not going to be doing the job they hired him for and that his pay was $2 less than they had previously told him during his interview. He was working 60 hours a week right off with no training and being shuffled from one thing to the next. Then they wanted him to do deliveries so he started driving all over NY state doing deliveries. On the first delivery he had a supervisor with him who reviewed the other drivers log book during the drive to discover that the other driver was not taking the required breaks that you are required to take as a driver so that he could get done quicker. The other driver was fudging the books as they could tell during the deliveries. This supervisor told my father that this driver would have to be talked to about this because it is illegal and that he would be letting the boss know about this right away. Then my father had to make an overnight trip to New Jersey and NY city. He got back home very late Friday night, got a few hours of sleep and then had to make another delivery to Syracuse on Saturday. When he returned to work from this trip, his boss took him aside and told him that he was not doing deliveries quickly enough and that they would have to let him go. He was fired December 21st, right before Christmas. My father said that he knew that they had other jobs in the building that he could do if they were not happy with his delivery times and his boss told him that they had nothing for him and he was fired. My dad was doing deliveries and following New York state regulations. The other drivers illegal driving was brought to light and my dad was fired because of it. He did nothing wrong, he was honest and hard working, and he was fired for it. What legal action can we take. Can we get them to at least pay him what he was making until he finds another job? 

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What if we charged them with discrimination. My father had a stroke about a year ago, and they were taking advantage. Telling him what his pay would be and then changing it, I am sure that he signed something in the initial interview on what his job description and pay was, which they changed once he started.

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First, there is no "we."  Your dad is a grown up.  Second, "taking advantage" of an "insecurity" is not discrimination nor is it illegal.  Everybody who has been out of work that finally gets a new job is insecure and every employer knows it.  Your dad needs to look into filing unemployment. 

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He did nothing wrong, he was honest and hard working, and he was fired for it. What legal action can we take. Can we get them to at least pay him what he was making until he finds another job? 

 

Nothing you described indicates that the employer did anything legally wrong. When the employer is not a government agency, then the employer may legally fire you for any reason (or no reason at all) except for a few reasons prohibited by law. The prohibited reasons include firing you because:

  • of your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic test information under federal law and NY law adds political affiliation or belief, arrest and conviction record, marital status, genetic predisposition and carrier status, veteran status, and sexual orientation;
  • you make certain kinds of reports about the employer to the government or in limited circumstances to specified persons in the employing company itself (known as whistle-blower protection laws);
  • you participate in union organizing activities;
  • you use a right or benefit the law guarantees you (e.g. using leave under FMLA);
  • you filed a bankruptcy petition;
  • your pay was garnished by a single creditor; and
  • you took time off work to attend jury duty (in most states).

Being fired for not making deliveries on time is not among the prohibited reasons for firing an employee. Unless there is evidence that the real reason was something like what I listed above, he won't have a claim for wrongful termination here. The employer had no legal obligation to place him in a different job with one exception I'll discuss below. The employer may change future pay and may change job duties at any time. The employer cannot change pay for work already done, however. Thus, so long as he was paid what he was told the pay would be prior to starting work (even though it was $2/hour less than initially promised), and assuming that amount was at least minimum wage, the employer has paid him what he is due and he'd not have any wage claim here.

 

If your father had a disability within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and your father was unable to do his job to the required specifications because of that disability, the employer may have had to provide a reasonable accommodation to help him do the job to the required level. In some cases, reassignment to another job that he can do may be a reasonable accommodation. However, unless the employer was aware of the disability and that it was the reason for the job performance problem, the employer would not have known that there was any need for a reasonable accommodation. For more information see the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity’s enforcement guidance on reasonable accommodation. 

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There still has to be a reason for his termination. Whether there is a union or not, "just cause is still required in order to terminate someone regardless of how long your dad was employed. The phrase "at will" does not have power that it use to.

 

My recommendation to you is to have your dad file a claim with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the area where he lives.

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Whether there is a union or not, "just cause is still required in order to terminate someone regardless of how long your dad was employed. The phrase "at will" does not have power that it use to.

 

That is not correct. An employer does NOT need “just cause” to fire an employee in the U.S. in any state except Montana, and even in that state the requirement for just cause is fairly weak. In every other state, as I discussed earlier, all that matters is whether the reason for termination was one of the relatively few reasons that the law prohibits, like illegal discrimination. The reason doesn't have to be a good or "just" reason. It could be a stupid or illogical reason. It won't matter unless the reason is one that the law expressly prohibits as a basis for termination. That's very different from a requirement for “just cause.” 

 

That said, the standard for denying unemployment benefits in many states is very much like a just cause standard. So while a stupid or illogical reason may be a legal basis to terminate the employee, that employee very likely would get unemployment benefits. 

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