Can You Be Fired for Not Notifying Absence from Work ?
In Continental Coffee Products Co. v. Cazarez, 937 S.W.2d 444 (Tex. 1996), the stated reason for firing Cazarez was for violation of the three-day rule (a rule which requires an employee to contact the employer to explain extended absences every three days).
The court stated:
If an employee's termination is required by the uniform enforcement of a reasonable absentee policy, then it cannot be the case that termination would not have occurred when it did but for the employee's assertion of a compensation claim or other conduct protected by section 451.001. Thus, if Continental enforced the rule uniformly, and if Cazarez violated it, then Cazarez could not have been terminated in violation of the Anti-Retaliation Law. Id. at 451.
According to Continental, Cazarez was terminated because she failed to call in to account for her absence on November 6, 7, and 8 and that she was thus properly fired on the 8th.
However, Cazarez introduced evidence to establish that the stated reason for termination was false.
She introduced evidence to establish she was fired on the 7th, before the 3 day rule was violated.
The court stated; "Crediting Cazarez's testimony, as we must, there is some evidence that she did not violate the three-day rule." Id. at 451.
This was the evidence Cazarez introduced to raise a fact question on whether the stated reason for termination was false.
Evidence which does nothing more than show an improper motive does not raise a fact issue on whether the stated reason for discharge is false.
It must be evidence which specifically raises a fact question on whether the reason for termination established by the summary judgment evidence is false. Id., see Texas Division-Tranter, Inc. v. Carrozza, 876 S.W.2d 312, 313-14 (Tex. 1994).