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Wrongful dismissal? School worker loses job over $3.28 in taxes

A veteran New York City school worker who given her all for students for a decade at the East Harlem Mosaic Preparatory Academy was recently terminated by the city for a conflict of interest that amounted to just over $3 in sales tax.

According to the former worker, she was not aware that she faced any trouble for purchases she made last January for children in the school. According to the city's Conflicts of Interests Board, there were discrepancies in her purchases. The woman said she used a tax-exempt code to make a $51 purchase for students; her daughter-in-law then bought $37 worth of items for students, saving the former worker $3.28 in taxes. She said the store clerk mistakenly added her daughter-in-law's purchases to the tax-exempt purchase.

The former worker believes her termination was in retaliation for her allegations of favoritism by one supervisor. Parents were shocked at the news of the veteran worker's termination. They also believe that management punished the worker through demotions before they fired her.

Employees can be terminated, fired or dismissed from their jobs for various reasons, including violating company policies and when employment contracts have ended. However, a worker who has been terminated for exposing workplace discrimination or by filing a workers' compensation could be a victim of wrongful termination. If this is the case, then the employee is advised to seek damages for any act of retaliation.

Cases such as this one are not unfamiliar to New York residents. Workers who face similar employment predicaments and outcomes have the right to file legal actions against employers who wrongfully terminate them.

Source: New York Post, "School worker fired in 'retaliation' - over $3.28," Yoav Gonen and Jeane MacIntosh, Oct. 25, 2013

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