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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38801
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I am the General Manager of a catering company. My boyfriend

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I am the General Manager of a catering company. My boyfriend is the owner. I know, bad combination. He is bipolar. We lived together as well. He put all my stuff in garbage bags and sent me a text to come get it and not to come into work the next day, to call in sick. He phoned me the next day to tell me he would give me three months severance pay, to return the company car and cell phone. He then proceeded to call me about 1/2 hour later with a proposition that I come to work, clean up what I need to and transition out of the company because everyone there was really upset. He is going thru a manic episode with his bipolar disorder and blames me for all the stress and upset in his life. I left work yesterday and told him I can't be abused any longer. He also wants me to provide him with a letter of resignation, which will prohibit me from getting unemployment, I believe. I have not contacted him since I asked him to honor the severance, and to please work out an agreement with me for the car and medical insurance. He sent me a text asking what I suggest as agreement. I have not responded and he sent that yesterday at around 1pm. I am scared because of his condition to answer him. Help!

Thank you for your question.

I'm very sorry to hear about your situation.

Before I can tell you about you rights and what I think you should do, I need to know the following:

1. How many employees are there in total?

2. What state is this in?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.
There are about 20 full time employees and we are in California
I'm going to refer you to our California Employment Law section for further handling.


Different contributor here. I am a member of the State Bar of California and I have comprehensive knowledge of California employment law. I also have considerable experience with persons who have bipolar, borderline personality, and dissociated identity disorders. Please permit me to assist.

First, as I'm sure you're aware, your boyfriend may exit the angry mode at any time and suddenly love you to death again. So, if you can wait it out, you may find that he will be in a more receptive mood to give you a severance package.

However, because of his alleged illness, even if he enters into a written agreement to pay severance, he may simply decide not to pay, and you would be in court trying to enforce the agreement. So, any package that is not simply a lump-sum payment with no other requirements is probably a package that will blow up in your face.

What you need to decide is whether or not you would be better simply getting unemployment insurance benefits and moving on with your life -- or whether or not you can get a settlement.

If I were representing you, I would offer to have you sign a release from further liabilty in exchange for six months salary in advance, and that would be the end of the matter. And, if I couldn't get it, I would tell you to file for unemployment and then let your boyfriend try to prove that you quit.

You probably can get your boyfriend to blow up at the unemployment hearing, and if the judge sees that, he/she will know that the employer is unstable and you were probably fired and rehired about once a day. Which would be sufficient to obtain unemployment benefits.

Ideally, if you have anything from your boyfriend in writing that indicates your employment is terminated, then that's really all you need to apply for unemployment benefits. But, if you want to go for the severance, then you will need to catch him in a good mood, and you will need to have something already drafted that you can drop in front of him and say, "sign this and cut me a check, and that will end things amicably."

Frankly, I don't think that he will ever sign anything, and even if he does, he probably won't honor the agreement. Regardless, you have to be prepared to grab the opportunity if it arises.

Note: I'm trying to be completely objective here. I realize that you may still have a strong emotional attachment to your boyfriend, and so what I'm saying here may strike you as inappropriate. After all, I can't possibly know what your situation is like, right?

Believe me, I know EXACTLY what you're going through, because I have been there myself. So, I'm not just shooting from the hip. I understand, and I feel your pain (for what it's worth).

Please let me know if I can be of further assistance.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your response. It's a very difficult say the least. He has become increasingly abusive, and I refuse to engage with him right now. His last texts to me were just cruel. He turned my phone off when I refused to come back in and help him. I am not even sure at this point if he will give me my final paycheck with my vacation pay.

Another co-worker phoned me yesterday saying that she quit due to his hostile behavior towards her. She is the 9th person in 6 months to either quit or get fired. She also told me that she is putting a letter together to send to the EDD for unstable working conditions.

My only question as I am filling out my unemployment application is what do I say in the reason for no longer working brief explanation box. I want to make sure that legally I don't say anything wrong. Of the 9 people who are no longer with the company, three of them filed with the EDD as "hostile environment".

Please advise when you have a moment.

Thank you.

"Intolerable working conditions" would be the general grounds, if you allege that you quit. Title 22 Cal. Code Regs. 1256-23(c).

"Hostile Environment" only arises within the scope of unlawful discrimination -- particularly sexual harassment. Given that you are in an intimate relationship with the employer, you could in fact claim sexual harassment, and you could complain to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). You may have a legal action for substantial damages against your boyfriend, because he has effectively placed your employment subject to the personal relationship. You may also want to consider hiring a local employment rights attorney, because you could potentially force a settlement for a considerable amount of money -- more than you could hope to get from unemployment benefits -- though, you could get those, too.

For an employment rights attorney referral, see this link.

Hope this helps.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I want to allege he fired me, which in fact he did and I have it on texts.

What would I say for that?

Thank you for the link to the referrals.

"Involuntary Termination."

Note: Your original allegations suggested that you may have returned to work after you were fired. If so, then that could amount to a withdrawal/revocation of your termination, and your acceptance of that withdrawal, which would reinstate the employment contract -- making your subsequent termination a voluntary quit for intolerable work conditions.

So, while I understand you would prefer to have been fired, because it makes unemployment benefits a clear entitlement -- be careful how you recite the facts, because if it appears that you returned to work after being fired, then either you weren't fired, or you were immediately rehired under the same terms of employment.

Hope this helps.
socrateaser, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 38801
Experience: Retired (mostly)
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