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Could tardiness lead to a wrongful termination claim?

When an employee is terminated from their employment, the termination may occur for many reasons. If the reason for the employee's termination is in violation of an overriding law, the employee's termination may be considered a wrongful termination. Although Missouri laws provide for at-will employment, employment can also be based on an employment contract. In either case, if labor or employment laws are violated, an employee has a right to seek legal action.

Recently, a longtime employee of a radio station was terminated. The radio host had been employed pursuant to an employment contract that was set to expire on October 31, 2012. The former employer claims the termination was the result of the employee's consistent tardiness.

The former employee's termination came after the employee's 28 years of continued work at the radio station. The former employee's income and health benefits will stop as a result of the termination. The employee is claiming his termination was not due to his tardiness but a result of discrimination based upon his age and health condition. The former employee is 66 and has been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. The former employee claims the wrongful termination and loss of health benefits will cause him to incur large medical bills associated with his diagnosis.

A representative from the radio station responded to the statements regarding the former employee's termination. The employer's representative stated that the termination was due to the former employee's failure to honor his employment contract; therefore allowing the employer to exercise its contractual right to terminated the contract. The statements made between the former employee and his employer were the initial reactions made by the parties. Although no lawsuits have been filed, the former employee is currently investigating a potential wrongful termination claim.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Lawyer: KNBR wrongfully terminated Barbieri," April 16, 2012

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