When you are working, you expect to be governed by your employer’s rules and regulations. Your time away from work should be your own. However, there are times when your off-duty conduct can cause you to be disciplined or fired at work. Sometimes there is a legitimate concern from your employer, but in some other cases a worker is being discriminated against and their off-duty actions are the justification their company needs. If you have been fired for your off-duty conduct and you believe that you are in this second category, you should speak to a Chesterfield County wrongful termination attorney.
Can My Employer Govern My Off-Duty Conduct?
Your employer can set their own policies concerning the off-duty conduct of employees. If you sign an agreement and say that you will act in a certain way or that you will not do certain things while off-duty, that generally means that your employer can fire you if you violate that policy. As long as the policy itself is not discriminatory in some way, they have a valid reason to fire an at-will employee.
When Is It Fair for a Company to Discipline an Employee for Off-Duty Conduct?
Given that Virginia is an at-will employment state, employers have broad discretion to terminate employees. At-will means that employees in Virginia are entitled to quit their job for any reason at all. This also means that employers in Virginia are entitled to lay off or fire employees for any reason or no reason at all. This can be troublesome for employees in the state. However, there are exceptions. First, an employer cannot terminate an employee for unlawful reasons, such as discrimination. Second, if you have an agreement that governs how you may be terminated, an employer must abide by the terms of the agreement.
Of course, there are exceptions. If the employer is applying any off-duty policy inconsistently and based on an employee’s protected class (race, sex, gender, age, religion, disability, etc.), then the employer’s actions may be unlawful.
Should I Speak to an Employment Lawyer?
If you believe that your off-duty conduct should not have been a fireable offense and that your employer had another illegal reason to fire you, it may be worthwhile to speak to an employment lawyer. This is especially true if you have evidence that your employer is discriminating against you. If there are chat logs, text messages, or emails that can be used to make your case, an employment lawyer can help you file a complaint and show your employer that their actions were not acceptable.
Schedule Your Consultation With an Employment Lawyer
So if you believe that you have been discriminated against, contact Passero Employment Law and speak to an experienced attorney who can help you hold them accountable. Schedule a consultation today.