Can my employer terminate me for tardiness without a previous written warning?

UPDATED: Dec 10, 2011

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Can my employer terminate me for tardiness without a previous written warning?

Last year my wife fell ill. I was forced to apply for intermittent FMLA and I was approved. The accounting department overpaid me for unpaid leave taken under FMLA. Around this time there was a change in management. The new manager believed I was at fault for the over-payments and formally wrote me up. At least 6 months later I was fired immediately following the completion of a wage garnishment. The reason given “excessive absences and tardiness”. I was never written up for attendance or tardiness.

Asked on December 10, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, Oklahoma


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

As a general matter, unless you have a contract of some sort to the contrary, you may be fired at any time, for any reason, including tardiness, and there is no requirement for prior warnings or write ups. That could be limited if you have a very strong employee or policy handbook at work, which lays out a process of progressive discipline under which you have to get warnings first. If you do have such a policy at work, you should consult with an employment attorney to see if it is sufficiently strong and will help you.

You should also consult with an employment law attorney because retaliating against someone for using FMLA leave is illegal, so if you could show that this may be what's happening, you may have a cause of action.

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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