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LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 27881
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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I am ex-shareholder of company I am working in. The new owner

Customer Question

I am ex-shareholder of company I am working in. The new owner refused to pay last earn-out installment and raised claim (with little merit) against ex-shareholders including me.
We rejected the claim and stated we expect last payment or we will execute debenture.
The owner contacted me and told me that if I will stay with the group then I will be fired as he cannot work with somebody who is having legal battle with.
So my termination will be not connected to my work but to the fact I was a shareholder.
Is this a base for wrongful termination suit ? Since 2004 I was employed in foreign company which was acquired and transferred to US where I am employee by sister company since December 2011. My level is executive manager and director.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon Michal,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

Unless you have a written contract of employment with your employer, which guarantees your position with the company for a set period of time and at a given wage, then you are considered an employee-at-will. This means that there is likely little protection afforded you relating to unreasonable supervisors/bosses, problem co-workers and company policies.

In CA, employees are presumed to be "at will." At-will employees may be terminated for any reason—at any time, even a mistaken reason, they can have their hours or pay decreased and they can suffer a cut in their benefits, so long as it's not illegal or unlawfully discriminatory. Generally, employees who work under an employment contract can only be terminated, or have significant changes made in their work conditions, for reasons specified in the contract. .

Unlawful discrimination would include an employer discriminating based upon a person’s Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Gender or Disability.

However, in CA there is also law which holds that the employer has a duty of good faith and fair dealing. And under this law in a CA case, the court found that the employee may not be penalized for seeking to enforce a contractual obligation by the employer.

In the matter of Khanna v. Microdata Corp., 170 Cal. App. 3d 250, 215 Cal. Rptr. 860 (1985), the court of appeals ruled that a company violated an implied covenant when it fired a leading salesman who had brought suit against the company for unpaid commissions. The court found that a breach of an implied-in-law covenant is established whenever an employer engages in a bad-faith action outside a contract and attempts to frustrate an employee's enjoyment of her or his contract rights.

As a stock holder, you had the right to demand payments due, and the employer's refusal to make payment allows the aggrieved stockholders the right to seek legal redress. If you are terminated solely because of your decision to enforce some other right you have, then you would appear to have a meritorious claim for wrongful discharge.

I would suggest that you speak with a local employment law attorney about a suit if you are terminated.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.


Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.

I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

(my previous reply get lost)


So you confirmed what I expected. I am at-will employee but in case of terminated I can sue due to termination by claim not connected with my actual work duty.


The owner will try to prove that is is not a case but the claim by us to pay outstanding money was made and only after that he contacted me with ultimatum.


To asses best solution I would like to know what is typical amount I will be going after ? Is this 6-12 months salary or something else ?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Good afternoon Michal,

You wrote:

So you confirmed what I expected. I am at-will employee but in case of terminated I can sue due to termination by claim not connected with my actual work duty. Well, that is not exactly what I wrote. You can be fired for many things not connected with duty---but you can not be terminated for making a lawful claim against your employer for moneys owed.

 

The fact that he threatened to fire you after you make your lawful claim for payment shows that he is retaliating.

 

You will be going after your actual losses---how much you will lose before you find a new job. You can also ask for punitive damages to punish the employer for his wrong actions. Get yourself a lawyer on this---this in not a slam dunk case, and it will be fought by attorneys on his side.

 

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you need any clarification of my answer.


Please remember to rate my service to you when our communication is completed, so that I will be compensated for my time in providing you with the information you requested. I will be happy to continue further, and to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.


I wish you the best in 2013,

Doug

LawTalk, Attorney
Satisfied Customers: 27881
Experience: I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
LawTalk and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  LawTalk replied 1 year ago.
Thank you for your positive rating of my service, Michal. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope you will ask for me on JustAnswer should a future need ever arise.

Please feel free to bookmark the following link so you can request me to answer any future legal questions you may have:
http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-lawtalk/

Thanks again.

Doug

When you receive your Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please do rate me highly (8-10) there as well. It benefits my ability to assist you and other customers, and would be tremendously appreciated.

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