Can I get written up at work for a non "policy" violation?

Asked over 1 year ago - Los Angeles, CA

I'm in training as a front desk employee at a hotel. I was written up yesterday for not taking initiative and asking too many questions. My issue is that the training has no structure. You're basically thrown up at the front desk and it's sink or swim. I recognize this can be a good method and I am doing well, however, with no hands on training it's difficult to know everything so I've found myself asking colleagues for answers when I'm unsure how to do something. My understanding it that I haven't violated a policy (i.e. smoking in the hotel, dating a superior, wearing the incorrect uniform). Is there any basis to my write up? I was told that I had to sign the write up so I did; now I see that I had the option of refusing. What does this write up mean? Please advise.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Nathan Reese

    Contributor Level 7


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . I am not sure that this is really a legal question. Employers write up employees for a variety of reasons usually related to performance. If you are not sure why you were written up, I suggest you ask your employer for clarification.

    This Avvo answer should not be construed to constitute legal advice nor create an attorney-client relationship... more
  2. Michael Robert Kirschbaum

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . Employers are not restricted to disciplining employees only for violating written policies. Written policies are merely guidelines and cannot cover every possible situation which may occur at work.

    While going through a training process, you are being evaluated. Perhaps, not very well. But nothing prevents a manager from criticizing an employee for perceived deficiencies, unless he or she is motivated to do so for an unlawful purpose. You can be criticized for almost anything and it does not have to be a written policy violation.

    Perhaps, the training could be better. This only indicates poor management. But the is no law that requires employers to be good managers or even to be fair. You now know what kind of environment you are working in. Either you will have to adjust or consider other employment options.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion... more
  3. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . A write up means the employer doesn't like something about your performance and wants you to act in a way the employer prefers. Regardless of whether you sign the write up, it still exists. Signing only means you received the document, not that you agreed with it, unless it says above your signature that you agree.

    Employers have the legal right to be lousy at what they do. They have the legal right to make mistakes, make poor choices, be irrational, and all kinds of things. Unfortunately, employees and job applicants have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. In general, an employer can be unfair, obnoxious or bad at management. And an employer can make decisions based on faulty or inaccurate information. An employer has no obligation to warn an employee that he or she is not performing as the employer wants. It’s not a level playing field. An employer hires employees to provide work for its benefit, not for the benefit of the employees. Don't expect the employer to take care of its employees; it doesn’t have to and it rarely does.

    There are some limitations on what an employer can do, mostly in the areas of public policy (such as discrimination law or whistle blowing), contract law, union-employer labor relations, and constitutional due process for government employees. Please see my guide to at-will employment in California which should help you understand employment rights: After you take a look at the guide, you may be able to identify actions or behavior that fits one of the categories that allows for legal action. If so, an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney may be helpful.

    I encourage you to read the article I linked to above, as it will provide you with a good understanding of how employment works in the real world.

    Employment rights come from the state and federal legislatures. One of the best things people can do to improve their employment rights is vote for candidates with a good record on pro-employee, anti-corporate legislation. Another way to protect employment rights is to form or affiliate with a union, or participate in a union already in place.

    I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the... more

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