Workplace Q&A: Part 10

Q: Can I be fired because I’m against abortion?

“I am pro-life and opposed to abortion. I was just called into my manager’s office and summarily fired. I pointed out that I couldn’t be terminated for thoughts or feelings that had nothing to do with my job. My manager responded that this was not the reason for my termination. He said that I was fired because I was trying to convince others that abortion was wrong. Can I really be fired for that?”

A: It depends.

You have the right to think or feel whatever you want. But your fellow employees also have the right to work without being aggressively confronted with others’ viewpoints. They are, after all, captive audiences. So, it’s one thing if you happened to express your opinion in a conversation with your co-workers. But if they complained that you persistently harassed them with anti-abortion rants, then your employer could indeed terminate you.

Q: Can I bring my 11-year-old to work?

“I don’t have child care on those occasional days when my 11-year-old daughter’s school closes for teacher conferences or bad weather. On one of those days, I asked my manager if I could bring my daughter to work. I even offered to have her do some filing. My manager’s unequivocal response was, ‘No.’ Isn’t this overly strict?”

A: No.

Many employers don’t let children spend more than a very limited time in the workplace, and the reasons for such a restriction can be entirely legitimate. For example, they may fear accidents or are concerned about disruption of other workers. When it comes to your offer to have your daughter do some filing, you should be aware that there are strict limits on what an 11-year-old can do in the workplace. Perhaps there are many tasks that she could perform quite competently. But your company may not want to risk a legal citation for exploiting underage labor.


Q: My co-worker just returned from 2 years of active military duty and was given a big raise. Is that fair?

“I am really upset. One of my co-workers just returned from two years of active military duty in Germany. My company immediately gave him a major promotion and a big raise. Is that really fair?”

A: Not only fair, but required by law.

Federal law mandates that an employee returning from military service must be placed in the job he would have had if he had remained with the company during the entire period of his military leave. He must also receive the level of pay and any pay raises that he would have received if he had stayed on the job.

Copyright © 2013–2014 Johanna Harris

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This post contains numerous questions describing common recurring problems in the workplace. The circumstances described in these questions, including the names of characters and business firms, are fictitious.

About the Author: Johanna Harris has been a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Labor and in-house labor counsel for two multinational corporations. She is currently the CEO of Hire Fire and Retire LLC. Her new book, USE PROTECTION: An Employee’s Guide to Advancement in the Workplace (i Book, Kindle, Amazon Paperback), is intended to help you learn enough about labor law and personnel practices so that you don’t get derailed from the career track you should be on.


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