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Tina, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33166
Experience:  JD, 17 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
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I was fired (this morning, over the phone) from a company whom

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I was fired (this morning, over the phone) from a company whom I have an at will contract with. I had just retruned from two weeks of vacation and have never been written up or reprimanded in any way. The company (which is in Philly and I am in California) simply repeated "We believe it is in our best interest" and "There is a sense here that you are not really part of the team"
I ran my own business and corportion for five years. This company called me, I acted as a consultant for a month and they promised me the world if I would sign on and close my corporation. While I am at will, there was no cause, no accusation, no write ups and no explanation 18 months after this company sought me out and hired me (this is a six figure position). Can I file a wrongful termination suit?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.
Hello and welcome,

As an employee at will, you would normally not have recourse against the company for the termination since the at-will doctrine permits either you or the employer to terminate the relationship without notice and without good cause.

Where you take steps against your interest in reliance on another's promises, it is normally best to enter into a written contract for a term of years indicating that you can only be terminated for good cause.

Since you did not have such a contract, your only possible recourse would typically involve filing a suit against the company for fraud if they made misrepresentations to you to induce you to close your business or accept this position in the first place.

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Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes I realzie that "normally" there is no recourse -however this case seems unordinary, but maybe that is just me. I doubt that there is actual "fraud" - I am an intelligent adult, and you are right - I should have entered into a contract for years and was not successful in negotiating that. Given the lack of any reprimands or notice, I would think that there is still a suit for wrongful termination - here's the other bit: I have had a lot of medical bills and Wednesday went to the lab and had blood tests that are unusual - testing for lymphoma, I have heard the CIO speak of the cost of "some employees" and that "some employees are sicker than you think which causes the group rate to go up." Of course, legally HR should not be entitled to that information, but the timing is suspicious and this is United Healthcare we are talking about.
Expert:  Tina replied 4 years ago.
I see.

Since you have reason to believe they may have used confidential health information in making their decision, that could give rise to a claim for wrongful termination under the public policy exception to the employment at will doctrine.

This type of case is normally difficult to prove and would be especially in your case because of the sophistication of the company.

Your best hope at this point would typically be to retain a local employment law attorney to represent you (CA since CA law would apply since that is where you work and reside) and have them attempt to negotiate a severance or settlement of potential claims with the company.

All the best to you!

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