Wrongful Termination

This story is long but is very involved.

I was recently fired from my job with a company headquartered in N. Carolina, I worked for them in Ohio.

At the time of the discharge the only things close to a reason that were said was that "I think it's time for us to part company" & "I don't want a negative person working for "MY" company".

I filed for and was granted unemployment. The reason the company gave was that I had violated a company policy. They did not list the policy, only that it had been violated.

When asked for more info, it turned out the matter was about free product that had been given to a customer as a sales incentive. The practice had been in place for at least three years and had been used by at least two sales reps before me working in the same area.

My supervisor had not only explained the procedure to me he had even given me product to use for the incentive. Of course he left the company about three weeks before I was let go.

The district staff (they did the actual termination) said that the practice had never been OK'ed by them and was against company policy and that my supervisor must have lied to them to get it OK'ed in the past. It was also stated that I should have known it was against company policy. Even though the practice had been in place for all this time it should have "sent up red flags".

I worked for the company for almost a year, I was never given a Policy & Procedure book, I was never told that what I was doing was wrong, I never received any type of warning (written or verbal), I was never disciplined in any way or had any negative communication to or from my supervisor or district staff. I did receive sales awards and was recognized for my sales efforts on more than one occasion at both the branch and district level.

I know that Ohio is an "at-will" state, but in order to be discharged for a policy violation don't you have to know that the policy is in place. I read that you could not be disciplined for policy violation if you were not aware of the policy.

When I explained the incentive practice to the Unemployment Dept their response was that:
"A review of the facts establishes that there was not enough fault on the part of the claimant in his/her acts, omissions, or course of conduct that an ordinary person would find the discharge justifiable."
As I stated before I was granted unemployment.

Is there grounds to pursue this further? Do I have any recourse in the matter?

Thank you for your time.

PS: I did not receive my last paycheck at the time due and contacted the district office to find out why. I was told that before it could be released I would have to pay for the product that had been used for the incentive. That the District Manager would do nothing to help clear up the matter because he "did not like the way you did your job". I then contacted the HR dept at Corporate Headquarters and explained the situation to them. I never received a reply from them but did receive my check a few days later.

1 answer  |  asked Jan 13, 2004 11:35 AM [EST]  |  applies to Ohio

Answers (1)

Neil Klingshirn
You can be fired for no reason at all.

Unless the real reason for a termination is unlawful, an employer can fire you for no reason or even a ridiculous reason, such as violating a policy that, from your perspective, did not exist. It is arbitrary and unfair, but not unlawful, meaning that the courts will not give you a remedy.

Your employer cannot keep your paycheck and cannot prevent you from receiving unemployment compensation, although its a shame that they made you work as much as they did to get to that point.

posted by Neil Klingshirn  |  Jan 14, 2004 09:55 AM [EST]

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