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Joseph
Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5126
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I was released from employment from a California County position

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I was released from employment from a California County position after approximately 30 days of employment. The only explanation was that I was not a "good fit". Prior to being hired for this position, I held a management position in a different county which I ultimately retired from. During my 30 days of employment with the new county, I did not receive any written evaluations of my performance nor any verbal evaluations of my performance from my supervisor other than I was doing great and was expected to be permitted to work unsupervised within a couple of weeks. The senior employee who was training me verbally told me that my performance was great and that I was ready to work unsupervised. I was released from probation days later. I believe my release from probation was unjustified. Does anyone agree with me?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

 

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

 

Unfortunately, until you are done with your probationary period, you are an at-will employee of the county, meaning that you can be terminated at any time for any reason (or none at all) with or without any prior notice.

 

That said, although it appears your termination was not justified it would not give rise to any cause of action against the county. The only factor that would change that is if you were terminated due to discrimination based on a protected characteristic, such as age discrimination in violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

 

If you have any reason to believe that is the case, you should file a charge against your employer through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which you can do following the instructions online here:

 

http://www.eeoc.gov/employees/charge.cfm

 

The EEOC will investigate the complaint on your behalf and either file charges on your behalf or issue you a right to sue letter so you can pursue your claim against your employer through a private attorney.

 

Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your response to my question. I am confused over one portion of your answer. Many years ago, while I was still at my previous employer in a supervisor position, I received training that any termination of an employee, including during probation, must be for performance related reasons. The attorney who was presenting the training in this area cited case law in support of this. Of course, I can not remember the case citation. I understood this to mean that you could not terminate a probationary employee without a valid reason that was clearly based on their performance in the position they were hired for. Are you aware of any case law related to this? If so, where could I find case citations without access to a law library?


 


I do believe that my termination was based on discriminatory factors and I am planning on challenging the termination through the counties civil service commission as my first step. If I do not prevail there, I will follow your suggestion to file a complaint with the EEOC. If I do not prevail at the civil service hearing, will that prevent a complaint with EEOC?


 


Since the only evaluations of my performance prior to my termination came from the person assigned to train me and all of those were verbal and positive in nature, I believe that the county will have a difficult time defending the position that the supervisor who recommended my termination did so because of discriminatory bias. Do you have any suggestions on how I might demonstrate to the Administrative Law Judge that the absence of meaningful feedback about my performance coupled with the extremely short time frame during which my performance was observed proves that my termination was due to prejudices instead of being based on performance issues?


 


Thank you again for your responses to these questions.

Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.
No, unfortunately that is simply not true. The whole point of probation is that you can be released from probation for any reason whatsoever. Once you are off probation, only then are you represented by a union, and can be released through no fault of your own.

For those reasons, I am unaware of any such citations, as they do not exist.

No that would not prevent you from filing a complaint with the EEOC.

Unfortunately, that really does not prove that prejudice was behind your termiantion. You actually need direct evidence of that being the motiviating factor to prevail. Mere speculation is highly unlikely to do it.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you again for your response. I will focus my presentation at the hearing on the discriminatory actions that I believe led to my termination. I will do my best to demonstrate prejudice at the hearing. One procedural question if you don't mind? I need to do a discovery request to the County Counsel for some documentation prior to the hearing. Can I simply write a letter requesting the documentation I want or is there a specific format that must be used?

Expert:  Joseph replied 1 year ago.
Writing a letter would constitute an informal discovery request. As long as you do so, he should respond. However, if he doesn't, you would need to make 'formal' discovery requests, which would require the use of various forms depending on the information requested.

Most likely, you'd need a subpoean duces tecum for documents.
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5126
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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