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

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

Posted

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 between Nathan Reese and any individual reading this answer. The information provided is general only, and you should not act upon this information.

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Thank you for your insight. I merely want to cover my bases in understanding the system if I get fired. Perhaps, this is a personal issue they have with myself more so than it is a competency or performance issue.

Posted

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 based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

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Thank you for your thorough and articulate answer. I do believe (based on my short time in my position) that the hotel is poorly run by management and not run efficiently. That said, I think the staff are generally good people. I don't want to file a complaint because of this but I do feel there is a good deal of injustice in my being written up. You're right; I will have to consider my options and either adjust or seek employment elsewhere.

Posted

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: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states. 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.

twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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Thank you very much for your response and help. I will take a look at you guide.

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