Peggy S. Hedrick, Attorney at Law

LOST YOUR JOB? TROUBLESOME EMPLOYEE?
Missouri Unemployment Law
LEGAL CONCEPTS THAT MAY HELP

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The question came from an employee who was fired from his job, and the employer refused to tell him why. Missouri is an "employment at will" state -- meaning that employers can fire an employee "at will" -- and employees can also leave their jobs "at will" -- as long as there is no underlying reason that is forbidden by law (for example, discrimination based on the categories such as race, gender, handicap, etc., which are listed in federal and/or the law of a particular state). Of course, employees and employers can have written agreements which modify that "employment at will" concept, but agreements are often found to be unenforceable. If it is at least reviewed by a lawyer before it is signed it may give more certainty to the employees, and employers, alike.

Following is my response to this employee, with an example of a "service letter"

You and your employer have a dispute over the circumstances of the loss of your job. Employers who have seven or more employees must follow special rules regarding employees who work for them ninety days or more. If you worked for that employer ninety days or more, you should ask for a letter from the employer in the following specific form. It must be sent not later than one year after you quit or were fired. It must be sent by certified mail to the superintendent, manager, or registered agent of your corporation, and the Statute must be in the letter.

I suggest the letter be similar to the one below. Be sure to keep a Xerox copy for yourself.

Your Name
Your Address
Your Phone Number
Date Letter is Written

 

Name [of the manager, superintendent, etc.]
Company Name [look on your paycheck]
Address [on your records, paycheck]

Re: Employment of [your name]
Social Security #____________

I was formerly employed by your company as a [secretary, machine operator, etc.].

Please furnish me with a letter setting forth the nature and character of my service rendered to your company, the duration of my service, and truly stating the cause [for which I was discharged] or [I quit] (say whatever is appropriate in your circumstances) such service, as required by Section 290.140, of the Revised Statutes of Missouri.

Thank you.

(sign your name)

[printed or typed name]

The letter must be sent by registered, or certified, mail, return receipt requested. If the employer does not respond properly, in writing, according to law, within 45 days after receiving the letter, you may have a stronger action against the employer if you challenge the loss of your job in Court. If you are not satisfied with the employer's response after 45 days, you should see a lawyer at that time.

A St. Louis attorney, Tim Willoughby, has a detailed and helpful discussion of service letters on his web page.


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Peggy S. Hedrick, Attorney at Law
Post Office Box 11027
Springfield Missouri USA 65808-1027
Peggy S. Hedrick, Attorney at Law
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