Can an employer suspend an employee without giving them the opportunity to defend/explain allegations?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can an employer suspend an employee without giving them the opportunity to defend/explain allegations?

I am a teacher and on Tuesday evening my head master notified me that she and our managing director needed to speak with me. When I saw them, they notified me that I was suspended with immediate effect due to the following allegations made by a parent: use of abusive language and behaviour towards children, bringing the company into disrepute and causing reputational damage, negligence or indifference in their execution of duties. However, never was I given the opportunity to defend the allegations. I was never notified that the employer had reason for suspension and only found out when head master contacted me via sms to say that a parent had laid a complaint against me. They have decided to suspend me until further notice to undergo an investigation in order to see whether or not the allegations were true. I asked her where I bought the company into disrepute and where am I causing reputational damage where she then replied by saying if a parent laid a complaint I’m causing damage. However, they are not sure themselves whether or not I’m guilty? Was the suspension inflicted fairly and can they suspend me without giving me an opportunity to defend the allegations?

Asked on June 26, 2017 under Employment Labor Law, Alaska


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Did your treatment violate the terms of an employment contract or union agreement? Did it constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination? If not, the it was legal. In an "at will" work relationship, an employer can set the conditions of the workplace much as it sees fit. This includes when and why to suspend/terminate an employee.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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