Can they suspend me without pay with no work policy in effect and my lifestyle at home?

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Can they suspend me without pay with no work policy in effect and my lifestyle at home?

I recently was hired on at a landscaping business after working for them through a temp. I was out in 90 degree weather mowing grass and my boss and her husband showed up. She commented as we stood there, that she smelled alcohol and I explained to her it was mighty hot out and It was my sweat glands sweating my beers out from the night before. She said OK and waved to me goodbye. I got back into the company truck and I drove to other sites and finished out the day. Later that night, I got a call from her husband that they weren’t happy because they smelled the alcohol, so they gave me a week suspension because I violated company policy; they had warned me not to drink the night before mowing days, which I don’t recall. Is this legal? They just hired me on without a workplace policy in effect and for that matter I signed no work forms. What are my choices?

Asked on July 29, 2016 under Employment Labor Law, Ohio

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Do you have an employment contract or union/collective bargaining agreement that gives you protection under the circumstances? Does your treatment constitute some form of legally actionable discrimination? If not, then you are what is known as an "at will" employee. Accordingly, your employer can suspend you for the reason that you give, or for any reason, or for no reason at all, with or without notice. For your part, you can either accept the suspension, complain and risk termination, or quit.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

You don't have any choice but to comply (and put up with the suspension) or else seek other employment. Unless you have a written employment contract which limits discipline and/or termination from employment--and most of us don't--you are an employee at will. An employee at will may be terminated, or anything less than termination, including suspension, at any time, for any reason whatsoever, without any prior warning or notice, at the employer's sole option. The employer may also add, change, etc. work policies at will, without prior notice.


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