Can I get written up at work for asking questions about my breaks?

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Can I get written up at work for asking questions about my breaks?

Asking on behalf of my mother; she was having a conversation with a fellow employee at work and asked that employee; l who covers her breaks and why she has to wait hours before she’s relieved for her breaks? That employee went to management and told them she felt ‘threatened’. My mother was ‘written up’ which means she’s 2 write ups away from being terminated. I know this wasn’t “right” but is it legal to threaten an employee with termination because she is curious about her break schedule? PS There is no union and it is a large chain where my mother has held a position for 5 + years.

Asked on July 26, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, New York

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

From what you write, it seems you mother was written up not for asking about a break schedule per se, but because of (allegedly) how she was speaking to the other employee--that is, the other employee indicated that she felt "threatened." An employer can discipline an employee if another employee reports being threatened by the first employee. Also, if there is no employment contract, which is most likely the case--very few employees have employment contracts--your mother is an employee at will and may be terminated--or anything short of termination, like being written up--at any time for essentially any reason. Therefore, it appears your mother's employer could do this.


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