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Can I be penalized for a policy that didn't exist? Maryland

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  • Can I be penalized for a policy that didn't exist? Maryland

    Hi there. I'm new but I have a question that requires a short and simple answer.

    Can my employer penalize me for violating a policy that was not in existence when I violated it? As proof that it was not in existence, they are NOW drafting said policy to add to the ever evasive employee handbook. To add specifics, when I was hired there was no information about sick leave or how to take it, or more importantly, what constitutes a violation. I work for a library system in Maryland that has minimal staff, and when I call out sick that means I'm leaving them short-handed for the day (basically, I'm screwing over one of my coworkers), so to avoid doing this, sometimes I would come in sick just to take care of my desk shift and/or do my storytime class and then go home to rest. Apparently each time I did this was a separate incident that has counted against me; and I'm only finding out now as a result of annual evaluation. My employer has been "revising" their employee handbook for almost as long as I've been working there, but from the information available to us currently (i.e. the old employee handbook, I got when I was hired, and the intranet, human resources page) there is no evidence to support there has ever been a sick leave policy OR any explanation of incidents or what constitutes abuse. Can they penalize me for violating a policy that never existed? Furthermore, can they terminate my employment without a warning?

    Also, on a side note, previous evaluations have been positive. Can an employer attack you personally in your evaluation? Something about this seems unprofessional.

  • #2
    Yes, they can.
    Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

    I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

    Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm sure there isn't a policy that says if you set fire to your boss's desk you'll be fired, but if you set fire to your boss's desk you'll definitely be fired.

      There does not have to be a written policy for every possible thing you can be fired for. Such a handbook would have to be lifted by backhoe.
      The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

      Comment


      • #4
        Maryland is an at-will employment state (as are all other states except Montana & sometimes there). You can be terminated at any time for any reason except a reason prohibited by law (ie age, gender, religion) or unless you have a CBA or bona fide employment contract to the contrary. It's just like you could have quit your job at any time for any reason.
        Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

        Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by joec
          No of course not, argue it with a company officer higher up the food chain.
          JoeC
          Please site the statute that requires a company to have a written policy for every possible infraction.

          Thanks.
          Not everything that makes you mad, sad or uncomfortable is legally actionable.

          I am not now nor ever was an attorney.

          Any statements I make are based purely upon my personal experiences and research which may or may not be accurate in a court of law.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by cbg View Post
            I'm sure there isn't a policy that says if you set fire to your boss's desk you'll be fired, but if you set fire to your boss's desk you'll definitely be fired.

            There does not have to be a written policy for every possible thing you can be fired for. Such a handbook would have to be lifted by backhoe.
            I understand, however, I don't earn matches every two weeks. If I did, I would expect that I should be able to use them.

            Thank you for your reply.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by joec
              I told her to take it to the higher ups, its called corporate ethics.
              JoeC
              Actually it's the "higher ups" who are having the issue. My supervisor does not feel that I abused the sick leave policy and understands that I was trying to help our department and not leave them short-handed. Had I not done so and taken full days instead of half days, I wouldn't have violated their policy....(the policy they never told anyone about).

              Comment

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