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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12355
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I just got fired from a Chef - Instructors job for having allegedly

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I just got fired from a Chef - Instructors job for having allegedly made racist remarks. I cannot recall any derogatory or mean comments ever made towards any of my students or staff ever. I always make it known to my students that the dishwashers and staff are to be treated with respect as well as the co-workers. The staff of various backgrounds and I have always done quite well with them, I am awaiting the full description for my dismissal from the Unemployment Office representative. Most companies are known for telling an employee why exactly they have been let go, isn't there a practice of unfair play here? No offer of rebuttal given, I have never before been accused of this type of behavior and respect any one and everyone that works along side me as well as any students. Racial Discrimination is a serious allegation and I am suffering the worth of my own personal and professional integrity.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. I'm very sorry ot hear that you were let go.

Was this a government position? Also, is your question whether you can contest your termination?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
This is a Chef Instructor job at a Culinary Center ... I am trying to figure out if there is a case here for wrongful termination. The Handbook given to the employees basically states an 'at will' type of status for the Employer but aren't there some normal procedural protocol type things that could be done before such a drastic measure of my loss of employment. I basically got fired because a 20 something year old didn't like my strict style and wrote some very damaging words that sent me out the door minutes after hearing I had been accused of racist remarks. In a nutshell the feeling I had for some time was the management wanted me out and found one bad review to get me out ASAP.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you very much for your clarification and sorry for the delay in my response.

The laws in this area are, unfortunately, extremely employer-friendly. Accordingly, I hope that you will appreciate a very direct answer to your question though it may not be exactly what you are hoping to hear.

Absent an employment contract guaranteeing you employment for a specified period of time, you are what is known as an "at will" employee, as stated in your handbook. More specifically, California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other."

What this all means is that your employer is free to terminate you for any reason whatsoever, even a reason that is entirely unfair, unless the underlying motivation is discriminatory or otherwise in violation of California law.

Employers are not required to provide warnings or give advance notice of termination, and employers are not limited to terminating employees only for allegations that are true. It is a sad fact that employees are often terminated on the basis of lies told by other employees, but no cause of action against the employer arises in such an instance.

The only available recourse to an employee in this circumstance would be against a cause of action for defamation against the employee who made these false claims about you. This would not get your job back but would allow you to obtain compensation for your loss of income as a result of your discharge.

In order to prevail on a claim of defamation, a claimant typically must show that a false statement of fact was made to a third party and that the statement caused him actual damage. Here those elements appear to exist. The one difficult will be that, as a plaintiff, you will bear the burden of proof in proving your case, and it can be very difficult to prove that you "didn't" say something.

It's a lot easier to prove defamation when there is no question that the defamatory statement was false. For example, if someone stated that you were convicted of rape, a review of your criminal history would easily put to rest the question of whether that statement was true or false.

However, an allegation that someone made a racist remark is difficult to disprove because, unless the accuser states the specific time at which you made the remark and other witnesses were within earshot to claim that you never made those statements, it is simply word against word, and that likely will not stand in court.

So to summarize, this is unfortunately a situation where an employee can typically be discharged without warning, even though the allegations that form the basis for the discharge are completely false. There may be a valid claim for defamation, but proving it, from a practical standpoint, can be very difficult to do.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX this information helps you and I wish you the best.

My greatest concern is that you are satisfied with the answer I provide, so please do not hesitate to contact me with follow-up questions. Although I cannot always provide good news, I hope that my answer gives you a better understanding of the law and your rights so that you can obtain the best possible result under the circumstances. Also, please bear in mind that experts are not credited for unaccepted answers, so I greatly appreciate you taking the time to "accept" my answer and leave positive feedback.

Finally, none of the above constitutes legal advice nor is any attorney client relationship created between us.

Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
As a note, I just added to the answer in an edit and I believe I did so a moment after you viewed the post, so please re-view it to see the last couple paragraphs I added on. Thanks so much.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I think the answer is good although I am certain I am not satisfied with the content and believe there is an issue that deserves resolution in this matter. I am to meet with the EDD of CA and receive the details of my employers allegations today. Moving forward with that knowledge and understanding whether or not there is unfair or defaming criteria that might be help against me and my professional integrity due to false allegations will help me to give a better scenario of this case. I will refer to this site again armed with more facts and accumulated information. Sorry to take so many questions - I am not satisfied with answer and might be in denial but until I hear more on the review or evaluation of my termination and underlying facts I will not have submitted the full information and hopefully there will be more to discuss in this matter or which type of case this is suited to be 'termed' I am not falling out of grace at the hands of a law that simply states you have no recourse for an action against you after 5 -6 years of impeccable service.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Thank you for your response. Keep in mind that I can only answer questions on the information given and I have done my very best to provide an absolutely thorough answer on the facts you have described. I wish that I could tell you the law is more favorable in this circumstance, but unfortunately and regrettably it is not.

I would still greatly appreciate your "accept," as this is the only way I receive credit for my time as an expert. I will remain available for follow up on an as needed basis here in this question thread as you continue to learn more about the allegations against you. There is no additional charge for that service.