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The executive director threatened a receptionist to supply

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The executive director threatened a receptionist to supply all documents and alleged evidence on an internal investigation regarding suspected misuse of federal money. The executive director told the receptionist that if she didn't give everything, and cooperate fully she would lose her job or be in serious trouble. She also told her she could not tell anyone. If she told anyone she would be fired. This caused the receptionist a great deal of emotional distress. The people she was told to give information on and not speak to were here immediate supervisor and her supervisor's boss. The allegations ended up false and her relationship with her boss and her bosses boss was ruined. Is it legal to threaten an employee and demand "silence or gag order" and put that receptionist (hrly employee) in that situation? What laws or employment code would I research to get more information?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

Unfortunately, there is nothing explicitly illegal about the employer's treatment of the secretary in this situation.

As an at-will employer, it is legal for the employer to treat an employee badly or require the employee to do certain things that may make the employee feel very uncomfortable, as long as those things are not illegal themselves.

However, if the employer's actions caused the employee emotional distress, the employee may have a cause of action against the employer for negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Unfortuantely, negligent infliciton of emotional distress is a difficult cause of action to prove, and requires evidence of damages, which normally need to be supported by medical bills that were caused by the emtional distress the employee suffered as a result of the employer's negligent actions.
Joseph, Lawyer
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Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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