Case 1: The Bart Simpson T-Shirt
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You are a copy center employee in a private business with nonunion employees. You operate the machine. Copy center management has a dress policy which suggests “professional attire” for employees who have contact with the public. However, T-shirts and jeans are common attire and no one has ever been reprimanded for wearing them.
One day you come to work wearing a Bart Simpson T-Shirt and your boss fires you for dressing inappropriately. You are, of course, outraged because you have received nothing but complements regarding your t-shirt, and your employer never told you about any anti-cartoon t-shirt policy.
You scream “wrongful termination” but is it? Assume that wearing this shirt is not required by your religious beliefs.
What are your rights? Is this legal at present? Is this fair? Are there Constitutional issues here? Is it a breach of an employment contract?
Case 2: The Smoking Employee
Diana wanted to stop smoking, but smoking seemed to provide the only release from her hectic life. She worked in a building were smoking was not permitted, so she could only smoke outside on her breaks. Most of her fellow smokers would stand around the back door to smoke, but Diana liked to sit in her car and listen to music while smoking on her 15-minute breaks.
One day, as she had done many times before, Diana was sitting in her car smoking on a break. This time, however, the owner of the business looked out the window and saw Diana smoking in her car. For some crazy reason, the employer thought Diana was smoking marijuana — although there was no basis for this conclusion. He fired her the moment she returned from her break.
What are Diana’s rights? Is this legal at present? Is this fair? Are there Constitutional issues here? Is it a breach of an employment contract?
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