Fired for something a co-worker did -- any remedies?

I live in Houston, Texas and work in a restaurant as a bartender. (formally worked in a restaurant.) I was recently accepted another position outside the service industry which caused me to go from full-time to only a few shifts (Last Wednesday). Saturday, a waiter charged a customer for drinks that he had asked for. But we didn't carry the particular liquor. The waiter was aware that we didn't carry it. I told him we didn't carry it. The waiter told me to go ahead and make the drink with a comparable liquor and he'd fix the error.

Today I went in to pick up a schedule, and I was told that I was no longer needed because I participated in this waiter's scam. I have not gained or lost anything from this waiter's actions.

2 answers  |  asked Mar 15, 2001 8:29 PM [EST]  |  applies to Texas

Answers (2)

Jamshyd (Jim) Zadeh
Was discrimination involved?

Texas is an employment at will state which means you can be hired and fired for any reason or no reason at all unless you had an employment contract or you were fired for a discriminatory reason that you can prove (i.e.,sex, sexual harassment, religion, disability, race, national origin or age). If you feel you were fired for a discriminatory reason you must contact and make a written complaint with the EEOC or Texas Commission on Human Rights within 180 days of the last discriminatory act or else your claim could be lost. I would need more information but it appears you were fired for a non-discriminatory reason. If you feel you were fired for a discriminatory reason, I would recommend contacting the National Employment Lawyers Association and see if they can recommend someone in the Houston area. Good luck.

posted by Jamshyd (Jim) Zadeh  |  Feb 21, 2001 09:52 AM [EST]
Margaret A. Harris
Did discrimination play a part?

Employees in Texas have very few job protections. Employers can fire individuals even for bad reasons. There are a few exceptions like if the decision is made based not on what you did, but what gender you are, or what country you are from, or your race or age or color or disability. If I am correct in assuming from your name that you are Hispanic, then the question is whether you were treated differently than a non-Hispanic. Was the waiter also fired? Is the waiter Hispanic? If the waiter was not Hispanic and not fired, or if a non-Hispanic has been known to do what you did but wasn't fired for it, you may have been discriminated against in a way that is against the law. Or perhaps female employees can get away with this behavior but male employees cannot. If you have that kind of evidence, or if the person who fired you is prejudiced against Hispanics in general (or against male employees), you should go to the EEOC and file a charge of discrimination. Do this within 180 days of the date on which you learned that you were being fired.

If, on the other hand, there was no race or national origin discrimination or sex discrimination, then you are just out of luck. Texas law does not require that the employer's decision make any sense. It can even be a ridiculous decision and the employer can get away with it.

Good luck.

Margie Harris

posted by Margaret A. Harris  |  Feb 21, 2001 09:37 AM [EST]

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