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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38502
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My employer (the sole owner of an S-Corporation) just blew

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My employer (the sole owner of an S-Corporation) just blew up at me and swore at me for answering his questions during a recent meeting. He accused me of "freaking out" upon asking a questions and me providing an answer. He stated that it was "his f***ing company and he would do it his way" It is notable that I said there are two options but I would do whichever he prefered. I asked him to please not swear at me, explained that I wasn't freaking out, just attempting to answer his questions, he started shaking in anger and ended the meeting with "we are done, we are done." This is not the first time that he lashed out giving me significant responsibility as the Risk and Business Manager at IEC. He has lashed out verbally at other admin staff as well. If he were to terminate me after one of these episodes (after giving me a strong verbal review - saying I was a critical part of IEC going forward and was doing an excellent job- and a good 15% raise) would I have a valid wrongful termination suit? And since CA is an at will employment state what would the grounds for such a suit be? I'm not clear on the employee rights in an at will state.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.
In order to bring a wrongful termination action, you must connect the employer's adverse actions to (1) discrimination based on race, color, nationality, religion, ancestry, sex, sexual orientation, pregnancy, age or disability; or (2) violation of a well-established public policy (e.g., report of employer's criminal activity to law enforcement, attending jury duty, filing a workers compensation, wage claim, or OSHA complaint, etc.).

There is a separate possible claim for breach of contract, which occurs where an employer sets a written disciplinary policy, and then fails to follow that policy with respect to an employee. However, this is not a wrongful termination action, because the employer retains the right to fire the employee -- and the employee has the right to recover lost wages from the time of firing until the employee finds new employment.

Other than what I've described above, Labor Code 2922 permits the employer to terminate an employee "at will:" at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Note: Dependent upon what the employer says to others, you could potentially have a claim of defamation of character -- however, the employer would have to clearly say something that is not his "opinion," e.g.:

Defamation: "You have been stealing from the company!"

Not defamation: "I wouldn't be surprised if you were stealing from the company!"

Hope this helps.

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Expert:  socrateaser replied 4 years ago.
I see that you have rated my service as "poor." I have reviewed your question and my answer is both legally accurate and "on point" to your specific question.

Please feel free to ask a follow-up question, if you need clarification, so that I can completely satisfy you and receive a higher performance rating.

Thanks in advance.

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