How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Brandon, Esq. Your Own Question

Brandon, Esq.
Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1820
Experience:  Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
69271599
Type Your California Employment Law Question Here...
Brandon, Esq. is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

I work as a manager for a mid-size company and have 4 employees.

Customer Question

I work as a manager for a mid-size company and have 4 employees. Two of them went to HR and accused me of being unapproachable, not allowing input, being moody, and raising my voice in one occasion. These allegations were made AFTER I told the group I would hold them accountable for repeated mistakes and told them to look up answers on material I had distributed before coming to me for questions. I have stacks of emails proving that I have been a caring, flexible, and fair manager to them. All my emails reveal the completely opposite of what I'm being accused of.

I met with HR and they had no evidence to present to back up the employees' claims. I told HR I had not committed misconduct or broken any Company regulation. I asked them to show me which regulation I broke on the Employee Handbook. HR was not able to do so. I told them I wanted due process and that they had no evidence to back up their claims whereas I had stacks of emails and witnesses. I told HR I feared this was a plot on the part of those employees to get me fired. That I felt the company was providing no protection against this sort of thing because they're taking the employees' word over mine even though I have evidence and the employees have provided none other than than their vague claims that I'm unapproachable. Yet, to this date, every one of my employees keeps coming to me for work and non-work related conversations. One of the employees referred to another manager as "retarded" in a conversation with me. I emailed and told HR right away. Yet they seemed focus on my being "unapproachable."

I've been with the company for 1.5 years. During the entire time, I have worked insane number of hours, turned the department around, and passed all audits for my department. I have emails I sent to my boss at 2 AM and on weekends. I don't get paid overtime, since I'm salaried. I had a glowing performance review last year and now my boss is backing HR and not standing up for me. As a result of the stress, I'm now bleeding whenever I use the toilet. I emailed HR and told them this situation is taking an emotional and physical toll on me. Please advice. I live in the Irvine area and work in Los Angeles.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Employment-LawExpert :

Hello and thank you for your question today

Employment-LawExpert :

Are you online with me?

Employment-LawExpert :

Have you been terminated or has any adverse employment action been taken against you?

Employment-LawExpert :

Welcome to the chat

Customer:

Thank you. XXXXX here.

Employment-LawExpert :

In order to best assist you, please tell me what adverse employment action has occurred to you to date. Have you been fired or demoted?

Customer:

No adverse action has been taken against me yet. I'm very fearful though that retaliatory measures will be taken.

Customer:

I'm so afraid, that I'm bleeding every time I go to the bathroom.

Employment-LawExpert :

Okay, so you have a couple of options here, but before I go into them, I want to make sure I understand your employment relationship. Do you have the ability to fire or reprimand these individuals? Also, do you know if you are part of a union or if you have an employment contract where you can only be fired for cause?

Customer:

Normally I would. However, I don't think that's an option since they complained. I'm not part of a union and have no contract. My employment is at-will. The company I work for is a Medical Device Manufacturer and I work as the Sr. Compliance Manager. I have a Masters degree, so it's a professional type of work.

Employment-LawExpert :

Okay, first regarding these employees, California is an at will employment state. This means that you are allowed to terminate an employee for any reason that does not violate their civil rights or is in breach of contract. Thus, if they were a union employee, or if they have an employment contract that says they must be fired for cause, then you might not be able to fire them. Additionally, if they argued that the reason that they were terminated could be related to a protected category, such as their age (40 or older), gender, race, religion, genetic information, pregnancy, national origin, creed, or disability then the termination would be deemed wrongful and they would have a cause of action. Otherwise, if you have the power to fire them especially if they are not meeting their quotas, you are legally allowed to do so.

Employment-LawExpert :

However, if they are otherwise good employees, then there is an easy fix to this. You can simply make an open door policy, or set up an email for concerns where either you put in writing that they can come to you whenever they want, or they can come to you for any reason during a particular hour of the day.

Employment-LawExpert :

Then, if it is in writing that you are "approachable" or that they have an avenue to allow input then the company would have no reason to believe that you are any of the things you are being accused of.

Employment-LawExpert :

Bosses are allowed to yell, scream, be mean, and or do anything else that does not fit into one of the categories I mentioned above.

Employment-LawExpert :

Legally speaking.

Employment-LawExpert :

However, you definitely want to appease your boss.

Employment-LawExpert :

That being said, concerning the bleeding you mention, you could file a workers compensation claim, or could take legally protected leave depending on the circumstances.

Customer:

Well, that's the funny thing. I have piles of emails showing I have requested input from them. I also told HR that to this very date all of my employees continue to come to talk to me about work and non-work related matters. I believe the two people who complained were upset because I raised the bar.

Customer:

HR is clearly biased on the employees' side. My boss is not helping either but adding fuel to fire. I don't know where this is coming from because people tell me she likes me. I feel I'm in the twilight zone and there's a plot against me.

Customer:

Why aren't my emails sufficient to prove my character? I asked HR to give me objective evidence of the employees' "claims" against me, but none has been given to me so far. I've given HR the names of witnesses they can call to attest to the way I treat my employees. HR has not called anyone yet. This is maddening and makes no sense to me at all.

Employment-LawExpert :

The problem is that people only know what they are told. Especially if that is the side of the story they are told first. You have no idea what lies have been spread behind your back by these people. When there are multiple people telling them, it is hard to refute them. HR's job is to make sure that everyone at work is happy. It is their responsibility to do an investigation concerning any report and decide what they want to do about it. i.e. if there is anything illegal going on, (i.e. discrimination) or if it causing a loss of productivity. Your job is to make sure that your department gets the job done. If there are people who aren't meeting the bar they need to be terminated. Their complaint is not going to save them.

Employment-LawExpert :

The problems with emails, is that someone has made a complaint. So, to deal with this, you can put something in writing to the employee stating that they are welcome to come to you with ideas, or that you have that open door policy I mentioned above.

Employment-LawExpert :

Bosses get reports like this against them all of the time. They usually lead nowhere other than to the possible termination of the employee.

Employment-LawExpert :

Unless there is a specific policy in place which protects an employee from being retaliated against for making a complaint, no law protects them, unless the complaint is as a result of a protected category

Customer:

I have asked the employees to give me input on emails. I have plenty of evidence. I didn't want to fire anyone because I always believe in giving people a chance. I gave final warnings to two employees last year for not meeting expectation. When I did, I had stack of evidence to back up my decision. Why is HR acting against me without objective evidence though?

Employment-LawExpert :

Did they inform you of the complaint? Or are they actually doing something as a result of the complaint?

Employment-LawExpert :

They are required to bring the complaint to your attention.

Employment-LawExpert :

That is their job.

Employment-LawExpert :

You can then simply say "I have an open door policy (as referenced by this email) as well as ask for input on all tasks. If there is a specific instance I would be happy to rectify it if you would like to tell me what I have done."

Customer:

HR told me the employees' claims on 05/23. I was shocked that day, but could still perceive the bias tone of the HR VP. So, on Memorial Day Weekend, I wrote two factual letters rebutting all the accusations that had been communicated to me on 05/23. I also compiled a dossier of emails to back up my rebuttal.

Customer:

I gave this to HR on 06/04. HR did not give me objective evidence on the employees' claims. HR and my boss insisted there was a "theme" about my being unapproachable. Every time I told them how do you explain the employees come and talk to me then? How do you explain they

Customer:

sharing personal info with me? The VP of HR and my boss would just exchange looks.

Customer:

Two of my employees had previously complained about their previous manager (my predecessor) and the guy ended up fired. I told HR this, and again by boss and HR just exchanged glances. I smell a rat in all this.

Employment-LawExpert :

One of the reasons you have been promoted into the managerial position that you have is because of your straightforward and direct attitude. Unfortunately, this same attitude can cause people (like your boss) to take such accusations as truth. For example, if the complaint is that you are unapproachable, and your immediate reaction is to become defensive (which is completely justified) it is easy to jump to the conclusion that you do not take the time to evaluate what the person is saying to come to a solution. In that instance, the concept that you have an open door policy and that you are open to ideas as to be more approachable would have gone a long way.

Employment-LawExpert :

Those two employees have likely figured out what words to use when making a complaint.

Employment-LawExpert :

For example, if they stated that you are unapproachable to all people of color, then HR has to take this complaint seriously.

Employment-LawExpert :

Because a failure to do so opens up the company to a serious lawsuit.

Employment-LawExpert :

of racial discrimination.

Employment-LawExpert :

However, if you address the concerns, ask how to improve, and replace problem employees, then your boss will see you as taking the initiative in this matter.

Employment-LawExpert :

The rat that you mention could be 1 of three things. 1) they just want to get rid of you and this has nothing to do with it (unlikely as you are an at will employee so they could just fire you if they wanted. 2) one of the employees has a close personal relationship with your boss (nothing you can really do here, or 3) they made legal allegations concerning a protected category.

Employment-LawExpert :

The third one is the one you really have to be careful of

Employment-LawExpert :

because only in that instance are you prohibited from retaliating against these employees

Customer:

I asked HR to give me examples of unapproachability because otherwise it would be hard for me to modify this behavior especially considering that the employees still talk to me. I don't think they're hinting at discrimination. Although 3 of my employees are older than me (in their 40s and 50s), I'm in my 30s. The other employee is in his 20s. I'm Hispanic, one employee is White, two are Hispanic, and the other is bi-racial. I really want to know if I'm obligated to sign anything. What are the ramifications of my refusal to sign anything incriminating that will go in my file?

Employment-LawExpert :

Unfortunately, because you are an at will employee, your employer is allowed to terminate you for any reason other than the reasons I mentioned above. Because of this, you could be terminated for refusing to sign the paperwork in your file. That being said, you can and should refuse to sign it without adding an addendum to it concerning all of the policies you have in place so that your employees can come talk to you. Thus, if you have something in your file, all of the information is there, the good with the bad.

Employment-LawExpert :

When there are no specific examples of unapproachability, then it is good to have specific examples of approachability. I.e. emails to employees asking for input, a memo or policy where there is an hour a day or week where they can come to you for anything, an open door policy, etc.

Customer:

OK, thanks. I'm currently looking for work to get out of this horrible company. I keep on having my staff meetings and talking to ALL of the employees as usual. Deep down, I'm hurting at having being back-stabbed by my employees, but above all by my boss for whom I have worked so hard and I expect better from her than the employees. I'll ask to attach the addendum then.

Employment-LawExpert :

I am glad that I could get you pointed in the right direction. Have I fully answered your question today?

Employment-LawExpert :


Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

Customer:

Yes, you have. Thank you very much.

Employment-LawExpert :

Not a problem. Before you go, please do not forget to provide a rating in the middle or above so that I may receive credit for my time with you today.

Employment-LawExpert :

Have a wonderful rest of your day

Employment-LawExpert :

and good luck

Customer:

No problem. I will give you a rating of Excellent Service. You've been really helpful and patient.

Customer:

Have a great weekend!!

Brandon, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 1820
Experience: Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
Brandon, Esq. and 2 other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Our chat has ended, but you can still continue to ask me questions here until you are satisfied with your answer. Come back to this page to view our conversation and any other new information.

What happens now?

If you haven’t already done so, please rate your answer above. Or, you can reply to me using the box below.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thank you. I have an update on this case. My Company hired an external "HR investigator." I met with her yesterday and the type of questions she was asking were very biased, along the lines of: "Do you think you put people down or make them feel dumb,?" "the world isn't fair, why do you expect fairness here,?" etc. Very few open-ended questions. The way I look at it is that the Company is ultimately paying her, so she's going to write whatever they have paid her to write. I'm desperately looking for work, but there seem to be no positions out there.

Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Please do remember that I am not your attorney in this matter and no attorney client relationship exists between us. However, if you would like me to answer any legal questions you may have I would be happy to do so. You are correct in your assumption that she works for the company and that they are going to write whatevery they have paid her to write. Thus, it is definitely a good idea to tailor your answers for what the company is looking for. You can state things like, I definitely do not mean to put people down or make them feel dumb, but the company needs to meet their quotas, and there are times when an employee does something that hurts that goal. You can reiterate that your intention is not to belittle employees but to help them learn. Your job is to make sure things get done. You can either fire these people for certain things that they have done or try to work with them to try to get them to improve. But again, as she is working for them and not you, it is wise to present yourself in a manner which shows that you only have the interests of the company in mind.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.

Thanks. I do know you are not my attorney. I was merely following up on an invitation I received for the 7 day free trial on this website. I appreciate your efforts in trying to help me and give me good advice. Thanks again!

Expert:  Brandon, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I am glad that I could get you pointed in the right direction. If you have any other questions in the future please do not hesitate to ask for me again by going to the following link:

http://www.justanswer.com/law/expert-accident-expert/

Have a wonderful rest of your day.

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
< Last | Next >
  • Mr. Kaplun clearly had an exceptional understanding of the issue and was able to explain it concisely. I would recommend JustAnswer to anyone. Great service that lives up to its promises! Gary B. Edmond, OK
  • My Expert was fast and seemed to have the answer to my taser question at the tips of her fingers. Communication was excellent. I left feeling confident in her answer. Eric Redwood City, CA
  • I am very pleased with JustAnswer as a place to go for divorce or criminal law knowledge and insight. Michael Wichita, KS
  • PaulMJD helped me with questions I had regarding an urgent legal matter. His answers were excellent. Three H. Houston, TX
  • Anne was extremely helpful. Her information put me in the right direction for action that kept me legal, possible saving me a ton of money in the future. Thank you again, Anne!! Elaine Atlanta, GA
  • It worked great. I had the facts and I presented them to my ex-landlord and she folded and returned my deposit. The 50 bucks I spent with you solved my problem. Tony Apopka, FL
  • Wonderful service, prompt, efficient, and accurate. Couldn't have asked for more. I cannot thank you enough for your help. Mary C. Freshfield, Liverpool, UK
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/LA/LawTalk/2012-6-6_17379_LawTalk.64x64.JPG LawTalk's Avatar

    LawTalk

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    933
    I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/MU/multistatelaw/2011-11-27_173951_Tinaglamourshotworkglow102011.64x64.jpg Tina's Avatar

    Tina

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    849
    JD, 16 years experience & recognized by ABA for excellence in employment law.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PI/PIExpert/2012-7-1_152453_Attorney.64x64.jpg Brandon, Esq.'s Avatar

    Brandon, Esq.

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    330
    Has received a certificate of recognition from the California State Senate for his outstanding legal service.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PH/phoenixrising119/2012-7-26_11214_043.64x64.jpg melissamesq's Avatar

    melissamesq

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    47
    Represent clients to maximum recovery in employment cases.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/IG/Iggy1001/2013-11-20_23344_JApic.64x64.jpg Joseph's Avatar

    Joseph

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    3443
    Extensive experience representing employees and management
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/JK/jkiani22/2013-11-18_15348_JacobKiani1copy2.64x64.jpg jkiani22's Avatar

    jkiani22

    Attorney

    Satisfied Customers:

    24
    Attorney
  • /img/opt/shirt.png Legal Counsel's Avatar

    Legal Counsel

    Lawyer

    Satisfied Customers:

    32
    California Licensed Attorney- 29 years- Wages, Hours, Overtime, Discrimination, Wrongful Termination.