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Fired without warning but did violate policy

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Illinois

I worked at a large company for several years. I was recently terminated for violating the company's electronic communications policy which says employees may not use the Internet for personal use or visit inappropriate web sites.

I did sometimes use the Internet for non business reasons. I also visited sites that while not pornographic could be considered inappropriate.

Since my termination, I have not been able to obtain a copy of the electronic communications policy so I don't have details. However, by the strict letter of the policy, this company may be within its rights.

However, I have never heard of anyone else being fired for violating this policy. In addition, it's common practice for employees to use the Internet for non business reasons. My managers have visited non business related sites in my presence. It seems there's an unstated assumption that as long as your work is satisfactory and your use of the Internet is not offensive or excessive, employees can use the Internet for personal use.

I am also 55 years old and have 2 severely disabled children. My performance reviews have always been good, including my most recent review on October 17th of this year. I have never received any complaints from the company about my performance or warnings about using the Internet inappropriately. I received no severance or any kind of employment assistance. I was fired on November 10th. If I was still employed on January 1st, I would have been eligible for bonuses that would have likely been over $20,000.

I suspect that the company was within its legal right to fire me, even without first warning me. While I suspect the policy violation was not primary reason for my being fired, it's my understanding that the company can use that as its legal reason.

Do I have any recourse at all in this situation? If there's a policy but it doesn't appear to be enforced or appears to be enforced selectively, is there any recourse for an employee?


Senior Member
Employers may treat different employees differently as long as the reason for that differential treatment is not because of that employee's inclusion in a legally protected group.

You may want to contact the EEOC and have them investigate whether or not you have a case based upon age discrimination, but, at first blush, I don't see anything illegal here.

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