What To Do When Boss Issues Fake Suspension Then Claims You Walked Off Job

labor law

An AOL Jobs reader asks:

A few months ago my husband lost his job and it literally ruined every good thing going on such as paying off a car and having a roof over my family's head. It is probably too late to take any legal actions to possibly get his job back or even be compensated but I'd like closure.

In about the middle of March my husband was reported to come into his boss's office and beside the boss was his supervisor. The boss stated that my husband had a two day suspension following pending termination for supposedly taking long breaks and coming to work unprepared. The company have a strict policy against showing up in a work place, off duty, while wearing any company related attire (example being patches or badges). My husband comes to work in just work pants, steel toe boots, and an undershirt. Every employee is allowed 7 minutes into their shift for donning/doffing. He got into his work gear in the break room before 7 minutes was up. Every time my husband stands up for his rights against anything, a past situation comes up and he gets written up.

After the boss giving the suspension, my husband left work. The cameras on the premises recorded his departure. My husband gets a call 2 days after the suspension with his boss saying "the company is laying him off." He filed and tried fighting for unemployment but failed.

Three months later, we visited his old work place, met up with a few ex coworkers only to find out that my husband was never suspended that day. It was only stated so that the supervisor under the boss's wings followed his departure, on camera, so that the boss can use it against my husband that "he left work property and quit." His boss won. All his ex-coworkers finally admitted that it was set up and they couldn't do anything about it because they're afraid of losing their jobs if they went against their boss.

Was any of this legal? To lie about the suspension? To use that suspension to make it look like he quit? For the boss to not contact any higher ups about my husband's side of the story?

Wow. It sounds like the boss is pretty evil. He verbally tells your husband he's suspended and then claims your husband walked off the job. Then he uses the camera to prove your husband left. How do you fight against this kind of scheming?If his coworkers are really willing to lie to save their jobs (and in my experience, they will), then there might not be much he can do. If anyone has left the company, then they might tell the truth if subpoenaed or asked to provide an affidavit. If you can find anyone willing to be truthful, you might be able to reopen the unemployment case or appeal to the boss's boss to see if your husband's situation could be reconsidered.

One thing you mentioned is that this happened because your husband stood up for himself. If he stood up for himself and coworkers about working conditions, it's possible he still has time to file a Charge Against Employer with the National Labor Relations Board. Assuming he works for a non-government entity and isn't a supervisor, the employer might have broken the law.

If the workplace had a union, your husband might have been able to grieve the termination and prove they didn't follow procedure. Without a union, there's probably no formal process in place to appeal the termination at the company. If he can prove the boss lied about the suspension, then he might have a chance.

The other thing I'd suggest is looking around to see if anyone else was accused of walking off the job who wasn't fired. If that happened and the person who wasn't fired was of a different race, age, sex, national origin or other protected status from your husband, he might have a discrimination claim.

In the future, make sure you have proof of any suspension. Most employers give something in writing. If you don't get it in writing, then call HR to make sure it's real. This isn't the first time I've heard of the fake suspension being used by an unscrupulous boss to claim job abandonment.

It sure sounds like at the very least your husband should talk to an employment lawyer in your state. He may have rights he hasn't thought about. Statutes of limitations on employment matters can be very short, so do it soon.

If you need legal advice, it's best to talk to an employment lawyer in your state, but if you have general legal issues you want me to discuss publicly here, whether about discrimination, working conditions, employment contracts, medical leave, or other employment law issues, you can ask me at AOL Jobs.

Please note: Anything you write to me may be featured in one of my columns. I won't be able to respond individually to questions.
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