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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I was a salaried store manager terminated after 35 years on

Resolved Question:

I was a salaried store manager terminated after 35 years on the job with Ralphs Grocery Company, a division of Kroger, without a blemish on my record. After a two week investigation, HR had me in a room asking questions for close to 4 hours without a break or a glass of water. They said I cheated on a customer survey. I did not and when I asked for proof, they said it was evident in their findings, by 2 employees they interviewed, and would not tell me. They said I was never allowed to talk or confront anyone they talked to concerning the investigation. It was all one sided. A week later, they gave me my last check and had me sign nothing or asked me to and said we were parting ways with each other. That was it after 35 years! Can they just fire me like this without presenting proof or detailed explanation? I live in California.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

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

My goal is to provide you with excellent service today.

Can you tell me if you had an employment contract with your employer or were you an at-will employee?

Also, do you believe that your employer may have manufactured a reason to terminate you due to your age and/or salary?

Thank you.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I was an at-will employee. I know they were looking for managers who were faking responses to the customer survey. The scores were in the 80% satisfaction rate before they started investigating and when the stores found out they were investigating the rate fell to the 60% and 70% range. I was transferred to a new store and their score was 83%. Very high that 83% of the customers rate you 5 out of 5. By my second month at the store, it fell to 60%. I knew someone was cheating and could have been the previous store manager who I took his place. He had been there five years and my boss wanted him out and for me to go in and improve the stores condition and sales. That's what I have usually been asked to do for the last five years is to go in and fix a store. Unfortunately, there were a group who basically were running the store instead of the previous manager that did not like change. One eventually call HR on me telling them I asked her to cheat on the survey, which was not true. I told her someone was cheating and I was going to find out along with missing money from the previous year, that we had a thief in the store. I feel she was getting nervous and went to HR on me before I could report my findings. My reputation and integrity is impeccable. My fellow managers and district managers are in disbelief. I was even on a council with corporate that instilled core values among our employees. I was a top scale paid manager, 53 years old. I was top producer/leader in my district of 27 stores. HR even made a comment to me that "everyone loves working for you" . They told me they found the person who reported me to be creditable. HR had me convicted before I even stepped foot in the door. Their tactics are brutal. Their objective, I am sure, is one to get scapegoats for the survey, and two, get rid of high pay store managers.


Expert:  Joseph replied 2 years ago.
Hello Stephen,

Again, I'm very sorry to hear about your situation, and I really regret having to be the bearer of bad news, but I hope you appreciate my honest response, as it would not serve you or me to provide you with anything less.

As an at-will employee, your employer can terminate you at any time for any reason (or no reason at all) with or without any prior notice.

This stems from the employment at-will doctrine, which is codified in California Labor Code Section 2922, and states:

"An employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at
the will of either party on notice to the other. Employment for a
specified term means an employment for a period greater than one

While it is extremely unethical and immoral for your employer to let you go without proof or a detailed explanation after 35 years of service, it is unfortunately legal for them to do so.

I sincerely XXXXX XXXXX had better news to give you, but this is, unfortunately, the current status of the law.

However, if you believe that your age (or another protected characteristic) played a role in you being terminated, then you would have a cause of action for wrongful termination and discrimination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

You can file a complaint against your employer with the DFEH using the information available online here:

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

Since my goal is to provide you with excellent service, please do not hesitate to ask me any follow up questions or request any additional information.

If you don't have any, please remember to rate my answer positively so I get credit for my work!

Thanks and best of luck!
Joseph, Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience: Extensive experience representing employees and management
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