Wrongful Suspension From Work

Personal Injury News | October 29, 2021

When an employer suspends an employee from work, he or she must have a valid reason to issue that suspension. However, not all employers follow these rules. A wrongful suspension from work may occur due to retaliation, discrimination, or another reason prohibited by state and federal law. If you believe that you were wrongfully suspended by your employer, it is important to consult with a New York employment attorney as soon as possible.

What Is a Suspension?

A work suspension is a disciplinary measure taken by employers against employees. When an employee is suspended, he or she is temporarily removed from his or her work duties and usually does not receive pay. Employers use suspension as a disciplinary tool in many situations, such as punishing employees who have issues with attendance, performance, and violations of company policies.

Employers have the right to issue a suspension against exempt and non-exempt employees. However, issues may arise if an employer suspends an exempt worker without pay. In this situation, the employer may need to change the employee’s status to non-exempt and pay the salaried employee for overtime hours, which can become very expensive. 

For an employer to impose this type of punishment, the employee must commit a violation that breaks workplace conduct rules. For example, an exempt employee who drinks alcohol at work could be suspended without pay and without the employer needing to pay for overtime. 

What Is a Wrongful Suspension?

Employers have the right to suspend exempt employees for violations of company policies and serious misconduct, such as workplace violence, sexual harassment, or violations of state or federal laws. Non-exempt employees may also face suspensions for performance or attendance issues. However, if an employer suspends employees for retaliatory purposes or targets a specific group of people, the suspension may be wrongful. 

Under federal and state laws, it is illegal for a New York employer to discriminate against employees based on certain protected characteristics, such as race, religion, gender, sex, marital status, age, and disability. If an employer decides to suspend a group of employees because they missed a shift while observing a religious holiday, the suspension is likely wrongful. If an employer suspends a pregnant employee because the employee is pregnant, the suspension would also be wrongful.

Additionally, employers cannot use suspension as a tool to retaliate against an employee who reports the employer to a state or federal regulatory body. For example, say that an employee files an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) complaint against his or her employer and receives a settlement through negotiations. After the employee returns to work, the employer suspends him or her for performance issues, even though the employee’s performance had not changed. In this situation, the suspension is likely retaliatory and wrongful.

Hire a New York Wrongful Suspension Attorney

It can be difficult to prove a wrongful suspension claim. Many New York employees fall into the category of at-will employment, meaning that an employer can suspend or even terminate an employee for any reason without warning. However, at-will employment does not provide a free pass for discrimination.

If you believe that your suspension is wrongful, it is important to speak with a Syracuse employment lawyer as soon as possible. Your attorney can evaluate your case, identify whether you qualify for legal action, and help you take your first steps toward a resolution.