On Your Side: Workers Rights

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News 12 at 6, July 3, 2007

You may not know it, but if you don't have a contract of some sort, you can be fired from your job for any reason unless it's for something like age, gender or race.

And, it doesn't have to come with any warning at all.

Most of you are what are called ‘at-will employees’. That means you and your boss have flexibility. Both of you can terminate the employment at any time and with no reason.

However, if there are claims of discrimination, that's when things can get dicey.

Until a few weeks ago, Jimmy Reed was the Recreation Director for the Town of Williston.

"Approximately 3-and-a-half years," is how long Jimmy told us he held that position. He helped run the city's athletic leagues and he felt like things were going well.

"I got excellent feedback. I got great evaluations throughout that period," he said.

But then town leaders dropped a bombshell on him: he was being fired. "They never gave me a reason, they said multiple complaints," he said.

The Town Administrator wouldn't comment specifically on Jimmy's firing, only saying, again, Jimmy had multiple complaints lodged against him about how he ran the recreation department.

12 On Your Side was only given copies of two complaints. Both were made in a recent town council meeting. Neither mentioned Jimmy specifically, instead they focused on the Recreation Department in general.

Complaints or not, because Jimmy is an ‘at-will employee’, town leaders could fire him at any time.

And, despite some very good performance reviews, he had no employment contract. That means his job was vulnerable.

This is important to you because you too could be fired for any time if you don't have a contract. That's whether you live in Georgia or South Carolina.

However, if you believe your firing came as a result of your race, age or gender, that changes everything and you should contact the Department of Labor because your employer may have broken the law.

That is exactly what Jimmy feels happened to him and it's something he's not letting go of. "If a lawsuit is a way to do it to stop this type of activity, that's what we're gonna’ do," he said.

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