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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
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Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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Can I be terminated based on hearsay from employees who have

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Can I be terminated based on hearsay from employees who have complained that my communication with them was uncomfortable. In one case I was using a metaphore which included two cultures a chinese and blackman, which I am Black. the second incident a staff person came to me upset about her hospitalized grandson, complained that me using the expression higher power or power greater than myself upset her and third situation I spoke to an employee pre-work hour while she was still in her car, used profanity to get a point across, she laughed and made the comment you are my sunshine today but three days later complained she felt disrespected and thought my comment was a threat.
I was written up for the second incident and terminated the third. I am currently appealing the decision.
Thank you for using Just Answer. Between my law practice and other law related jobs, I have over 13 years experience. I look forward to assisting you.

Hearsay is a court room concept. It's really not applicable to an employer, so they are free to consider any evidence that you receive concerning your workplace. Additionally, this would not even be hearsay if offered in court. They are making statements about how they felt, which is their own personal testimony. Even if they were repeating statements that you made, it would still not be hearsay, because a common except to that is statements made by a party/opponent in a suit and if they fire you, they are on the opposite side of a potential suit from you...making you the party opponent. So, no matter how you consider this issue, hearsay is not applicable for you here.

Now, while I don't see the comments that you made as particularly bad (or even bad at all), the employer can consider any of them for a basis of termination, except the second one. I would argue that writing you up for stating your faith (or making a statement of faith) is a form of religious discrimination. I think you should contact the EEOC to have them investigate that situation.

The other two comments can be considered for termination if you don't have an employment contract stating that you can only be terminated for cause...and limiting cause by definition somewhere in the contract.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I was told that I should not have spoken to her at all regarding the situation and certainly not bring spiritual beliefs into the picture. I explained to the employer that I had been a counselor for many years and it was encouraged and expected that you help staff work through a tough situation. One of the other considerations is that the employer seems more concerned about staff going to union representatives which they have a right to do. How can I convince the employer that I am not a liability? I was also asked verbably to give a two year committment to the employer does this factor in at all?

I disagree with their position. One is allowed to speak of their faith in work. This is especially true if she started talking to you about the situation.

If you just walked up to her desk and started speaking to her about the situation, then that may be a problem.

The comment about your being asked to give a two year commitment is not really relevant.

In terms of setting the employer at ease, really all you can do is acknowledge things that you could have done better, explain that you understand the lessons to be learned and are prepared to apply them. In such "due process" situations, they really are in complete control. It's not court and they don't have to be objective, so placation is the best approach.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
The employee reported that my discussion regarding higher power offended her and upset her which was not my intent, does this make it wrong, I also went back to her after I found out she was upset and apologized for making her uncomfortable and explained my intent. She reported to my supervisor that I made the comment "who is she to question God" which I did not state?
You have to understand that it's not about "wrong" when you're an at will employee. It's about whether or not you can make their basis for termination illegal.

As an "at will" employee, you can be fired for liking the color blue...since there is no law against terminating people on that basis. You can't fire people for being black, because there is a law against that.

So, if they wish to believe that the conversation was inappropriate, the only way to make their reason illegal is if it fits under your religious practice rights. If you initiated the conversation, that's harder to establish (especially if you are a management type person).
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