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Wrongful Termination?

Discussion in 'Termination: Firing & Resignation' started by termination, Jan 8, 2011.

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  1. termination

    termination Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I was recently terminated from a large national hotel corporation after 12 years of exemplary employment for "violation of the company harassment policy" for failing to disclose two consensual relationships and one of those relationships was with a subordinate within the division I managed. Both relationships did not exist at work for the last year and a half and therefore, was no longer in violation of company policy at the time I was terminated.

    The relationship with the subordinate went bad and she was out for revenge. She recently e-mailed my boss and claimed sexual harassment, was tormented due to our relationship, disclosed my other relationship and hinted at legal action although she had not worked there for a year and a half and this was the first time she made a sexual harassment claim. Fearing legal action the company terminated my employment even though I have come to find out the statute of limitations for sexual harassment claims in CA is one year and she clearly stated in her e-mail this was over a year and a half ago. When confronted about both relationships, I told the truth and confessed......who said honesty is alyways the best policy? Both my boss and HR Director acknowledged they believed every bit of my story about the consensual relationship and she was out for revenge. There was no other incidents of sexual harassment claims in my employee file.

    The company is notorious for numerous supervisor and subordinate relationships that are not disclosed, but eventually discovered that did not result in termination of employment including an SVP at the corporate level. Numerous other similar scenarios, even of current relationships, forget about year and a half old relationships that were handled by transferring/promoting the individuals to different locations within the company. I was in a previous relationship at two other properties and never had to officially disclose close them on paper, although it was common knowledge. There is no consistent standard of how the entire company handles relationships in the work place and varies from hotel to hotel.

    Different forms of harassment occurred on a daily basis throughout the workplace and was tolerated. Over a year ago, I informed my boss of a sexual harassment and a assault claim against me from another male co-worker and no disciplainary action was taken which leads me to believe they were out to get me and make an example out of me since I was always extremely opinionated while this created a double standard of the company harassment policy. I didn't report my claim any further, since I was the "company guy" and wanted my career to continue to advance and feared this would hold me back or result in retaliation. My boss frequently made sexual harassing comments directly to me regarding female co-workers, including both of the females I had relationships with. My boss always discriminated against potential job applicants based on the applicants weight, instead of qualifications. Within the last two weeks a sexual harassment claim was sent to me via text message about the HR Director inappropriately touching a female direct subordinate of his after work hours off property, although the individual wanted it to remain confidential, so I never reported it. And these are the same two individuals who just terminated me for violation of the harassment policy.....Seriously?

    So my question is do I have a case for wrongful termination, defamation of character or sexual harassment? Your assistance is truly appreciated!
     
  2. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    In all honesty, the quick answer is "no, no and no".

    Wrongful termination has a very specific legal meaning - being fired for something you didn't do does not fall into the definition - nor do you have a case for defamation.

    If you didn't report the sexual harassment and try to do so now, it's going to be perceived as retaliatory.

    Although I believe what happened was very unfair, it does not appear to be illegal.

    By all means have a chat with a local attorney, but I do not see any viable cause of action here.
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I've followed the following three pieces of advice religiously for all of my adult life.

    1 Never dip your pen in the company inkwell.

    2 Don't defecate where you eat.

    3 Dr. Billy Graham observes the following behavior, insofar as the opposite sex is concerned. He never gets on an elevator alone with a member of the opposite sex that isn't one of his daughters, granddaughters, sister, aunt, grandmother, mother, or spouse. He observes the same protocol for being alone in any room with a female, other than as excepted above.

    If I were ever accused of similar behavior, I could bring forth a bevy of witnesses who could testify to my advantage.
    Don't place yourself in position of jeopardy.

    I concur with Proserpina's analysis.
     
  4. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    As do I. A wrongful termination means that there is a specific law that prohibits the employer from terming you for the reason he did. It does not mean that you were fired unfairly, or for something you didn't do (or for something you did but were no longer doing) or that you did not receive warnings in advance.

    While you might possibly have had a claim for SH, you have the same problem you already mentioned; it's beyond the SOL. Besides which, you can't possibly know whether any disciplinary action was taken unless you have access to the individual's personnel file. All you know is that he wasn't fired or VISIBLY disciplined. The employer is only required to make the harassing behavior stop, not to fire the individual or to tell you what action was taken.

    BTW, if you are a manager and you did not report sexual harassment further up the line or to HR when it is reported to you, that is a LEGAL and VALID reason to fire you right there.
     
  5. termination

    termination Law Topic Starter New Member

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    What if the company policy against harassment says absolutely nothing about relationships in the work place or having to disclose a relationship...... Does that justify a law suit?
     
  6. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    No one in these here United States of America requires a reason to sue.
    You can sue someone because they looked at you too long.
    Go ahead, sue your employer, this is the gold, old USA.
    But, as Proserpina said, you have no case.
    You don't need a case to sue.
    You only need a case if you wish to prevail in a lawsuit.
     
  7. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    If the company handbook or written policy does not mention anything about relationships in the workplace or having to disclose such relationships, and you were fired because they say you WERE terminated because you breached such a policy (that they aren't able to reference via a handbook/written policy) and you were terminated after "12 years of exemplary employment", then you should consult a labor law attorney ASAP. Wrongful Termination seems (in my opinion) a good possibility and worth a consultation with an attorney.
     
  8. Peppermint

    Peppermint New Member

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    So, wiseman, what LAW are you claiming was violated? Please cite it.
     
  9. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    I am not seeing wrongful termination here at all.

    I believe Wiseman may be misunderstanding the legal definition of "wrongful termination".
     
  10. Peppermint

    Peppermint New Member

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    So do I.

    Perhaps a quick discussion of the phrase would be in order.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrongful_dismissal
     
  11. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    There isn't any law that I can cite Peppermint, but I am aware that when a person has been employed for a long period of time such as 12 years, they might be able to have an action against the employer if they were terminated without cause.

    I am aware as well, that for the most part, Wrongful Termination is when the employer breaches Public Policy by firing an employee like when such employee blew the whistle on their employer's illegal activities for example.

    Speaking only from a standpoint of California Employment, I believe the poster should check with an attorney to see if he can pursue a case for Wrongful Termination based on a contract that is implied since the poster was employed for over 10 years before termination, that if there is no written policy against relationships with co-workers and/or former employees, would seem without cause.

    Mr. Proserpina: Respecting the amount of your post and assuming you have much experience in California Law, please note that the foregoing is just my opinion based on what I've read over the years. Seems logical to me. Please correct any misunderstanding of wrongful termination you think I may have. Thx.
     
  12. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    Your link seems to support what I said regarding a wrongful termination in breach of a contract. An implied contract is a contract, right? I'm not saying the poster has one, but it looks like it is a possibility--at least enough so that the poster should consult an attorney.
     
  13. cbg

    cbg Super Moderator

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    Please provide some legal support for your position that simply being employed for x amount of time creates an "implied contract" for a guarantee of continued employment.
     
  14. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    How does the handbook "not" saying something imply a binding contract?
     
  15. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    That's MS. Proserpina actually ;)


    But that aside - the others have answered the post more than adequately.
     
  16. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    I never said being employed an "X" amount of years by itself creates an implied contract. You interpreted my post wrong. As far as factual support showing the poster may have an implied contract, look at the link that peppermint has posted. That gives a pretty good assessment of what an employment contract is and how one can be breached.
     
  17. Proserpina

    Proserpina Moderator

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    Please don't post unless you know what you're talking about.

    Otherwise, you're simply confusing the issue.
     
  18. jacksgal

    jacksgal Super Moderator

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    wiseman please explain how the handbook (your implied contract) not saying anything about relationships forms a contract? I might see your point if it said anything at all about relationships but according to OP (Not back for a month now) it does not. So where is this implied contract? If there is none then OP falls under "at will" which means any action was legal.
     
  19. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    Usually (as you know) a company handbook will explain to the employee policies and procedures such employee must adhere to in order do his job in an effective manner. For example, there will be a list pointing out violations that could result in verbal warnings, written warnings and termination of employment. Handbooks usually explain benefits and timeframes in achieving such benefits like vacation pay, sick pay, medical and dental.

    Since, according to the poster, there was no mention in the handbook about violations concerning past relationships with co-workers that would result in termination or even warnings, it would seem (if an implied contract could be proven) he wasn't fired with cause. I didn't say he had an implied contract, I just said that since he was employed for more than 10 years, it may be possible that he did have one.

    Based on what I have read, there must be several existing parts in an implied contract. And all of them parts together can show one exists. Being employed for 12 years is one of the most important parts! A system of discipline where you have to get a verbal warning and then a warning and then 2 warnings and so forth before being terminated, is another important part. Getting raises and yearly reviews showing exemplary work are other important parts which when all such parts are in the equation, could very well show that an implied contract exists.

    If the poster can show all of the parts I listed exist surrounding his circumstances, he may be able to dispute employment at-will. Does that mean he will prevail? No! Does it mean he won't prevail? No! But in this instant, based on what the poster said in his post, it would at least be worth consulting with an attorney. If you disagree with me, please give me your take on "implied contracts" so that maybe it will point out what I'm missing as other posts suggest.
     
  20. wisemans_voyage

    wisemans_voyage Member

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    Show me in my posts where it shows I don't know what I'm talking about. Do you even know what an "implied contract" is? Please answer this question so I can see to what degree you may be confused.
     

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