Is it OK to be fired from your job for doing something that a manager told you to do?

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Is it OK to be fired from your job for doing something that a manager told you to do?

My son was running a check for a customer and it only deducted a portion of the check, the customer did not have another check so my son asked a member of management what to do and was told to run the check again. This time the till cleared out. When he came in a few days later he was fired for being short the difference in the check and was told by his manager he should have verified it had gone through himself. Even though the register cleared out and he did what he was told by another member of management. Also, another employee was going to write a statement but was warned against it.

Asked on July 20, 2011 Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Does your son have an employment agreement or contract of some kind for this job, which sets forth either the grounds (or reasons) for termination, or the process or procedure for termination? If he does, the terms of the agreement can be enforced. However, if he does not, then he is an employee at will, and an employee at will may be fired at any time, for any reason whatsoever, or even no reason at all. This then means, unfortunately, that he can be fired for  doing what a manager told him to do, since he could be fired simply because a manager woke up one morning and decided to fire someone chosen at random; as an employee at will, there is essentially no job protection, other than against being discriminated against on the basis of a protected category (e.g. race, religion, sex, disability, or age over 40).


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