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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38773
Experience:  I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
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I was terminated just 3 weeks after accepting employment. I

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I was terminated just 3 weeks after accepting employment. I was late the day of termination because of a family issue (Mother-in-law had to have an emergency partial foot amputation and is suffering from Alzheimer's ). I called in and told the person training me that I was coming but will be late and I explained to her what was going on. As soon as I got to my office I told her I would stay until 7 pm and I would explain my tardiness to my supervisor as soon as he got out of his meeting. He was in closed door meetings all day that day. When he was finally free he and 2 other managers walked into my office and said " You have been tardy several times and at this point we are going to go in a different direction for our HR Coordinator so we are letting you go."
It was so unexpected that I asked if they were joking. I resigned from a 7 year employment with the state taking this position and without warning, or even a discussion, I was terminated leaving me without any severance or benefits. I had just confided in my trainer that I was starting to feel awkward around my supervisors and began getting a "strange vibe" from 2 of the 3 managers. The other manager just didnt speak to me at all. I am an African-American female with 2 Master's degrees... One of which is an MBA in Human Resource Management. Most of my superiors had no formal schooling beyond high school. I am also a plus sized woman which I feel was also held against me. Do I have grounds to file a gender and race discrimination claim?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

I am genuinely sorry to hear that you were terminated. Please allow me to respond to your issue with candor and directness. Nothing so far that you described pointed to any sort of a discriminatory intent. An employer can generally terminate anyone at any time without cause provided the termination is not based on factors such as race, gender, religion, national origin, creed, age, or disability if any. Terminating someone for being late is permitted if the employer did not allow the employee to be late. There is no obligation from the employer to have a warning, talk, or other disciplinary actions first, an employer could simply terminate. Not appearing at work on time is considered to be 'abandonment' and potentially because this lateness took place only 3 weeks after the position was started could make the employer believe that this potentially would be behavior that would continue. That decision, at least as you described form your facts, did not take place because of you age, gender, race, or other factors, it took place purely due to lateness. That, therefore, is permitted. My apologies but purely from this information I do not see enough to claim that there was viable discrimination taking place.

Please be well.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Relist: Other.
I do not think all of the factors were of the initial question was answered. I thank him for his quick and candid response. There were other factors also, I was told from one of my superiors that he did not think I would be a "good fit for the culture of their organization" as well as asking me questions pertaining to ethnic gander such as why is his daughter saying things like "going to school to be with her peeps" then saying that he couldn't stand that she try's so hard to act black. Also, as I stated in my initial question, there were also non-verbal actions as well from two of the three plant superiors. I was given several looks, snarls, and the cold shoulder.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your follow-up, Sharekia.

If you feel that I did not fully answer your question, please do not relist my answer as that delays my ability to respond. Please also be aware that I was simply going by your own information and posts, if there is additional information or factors that you did not list, I cannot take them into consideration when answering your question.

To ensure I do not miss anything I will respond to each factor you listed in order and evaluate it based on your information.

Being told that you are not a 'good fit' is not necessarily discriminatory although it could be. For example someone who comes from a state agency (public sector) to a private sector position may not always be a good fit because positions and cultures are so different. Similarly someone who is used or able to have flexible hours may not be able to now fit to the new entity. Those are just two potentially plausible reasons for not fitting in that have nothing to do with your race, gender, or other physical conditions. I am not stating those were the reasons, but they can be, which makes it harder to claim that the cause was discriminatory. Now, the conversation with superiors about black culture or her child may well be unprofessional and did not belong at the workplace. It is tough to claim that this was a cause for termination (or at least a factor) but it is a more plausible argument especially since that can potentially be shown that you could have been exposed to a hostile work environment. Before I can analyze the non-verbal actions I would need to know what they were, and simply getting looks or snarls does not mean necessarily that it was due to your race or gender, unless this company has no minorities or females working for it. it may be racial or it may simply be not liking a new individual--but at least that by itself is not enough to claim discrimination.

Please understand that you can always choose to file regardless. But I assumed you asked if you had a good chance of prevailing. So far I do not see it because the underlying cause of termination was lateness, something that an employer could terminate over. And it makes a racial or gender claim far less likely because the termination took place so quickly after hiring--that generally works against a claim that the termination was somehow due to a protected status. Most discriminatory actions occur far later in the hiring and employment process, and here since you were still effectively on probation an employer has a far easier time in seeking disengagement of services.

Good luck.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok... I thought there was supposed to be an opener for dialogue. My apologies for the misunderstanding. Yes, I was the ONLY woman in the office. There were other women but they were all in the plant. I was also the only black person in the office on a daily basis. There are two black males that are the supervisors over the truck drivers but are rarely in the office at all. I was advised to look into detrimental reliance but it was from a person that is not familiar with law but heard that could be a possible option.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for your follow-up. Please allow me to respond to each issue.

I will start with detrimental reliance. Detrimental reliance is a claim via equity that based on promises and actions taken by the other party, you relied to your detriment on their words and that you acted as a reasonable person by acting toward this agreement. For example if you decided to buy a Subway franchise and the corporate office told you that one of the conditions required you to go to their school for 6 months and learn the business, which you subsequently done. Then, after you properly finished the school, the refused to grant you a franchise--that could be detrimental reliance as you took active steps to get the agreement completed. There is no actual detrimental reliance. Yes, you quit your other job and went to work for them, but it is not as if you had to move across the country or take special classes solely for this job. Therefore there is no 'entitlement' here for them to keep you working, especially since you were working as an 'at-will' employee. I apologize but that is not going to work.

As for being the only woman in the office, that may be a potential concern. If they had other women and other people of color working elsewhere (there is no requirement that they work for the same department, solely that they work for the company), it makes it harder to prove that there was discrimination but not impossible. It would require pulling their employee files and seeing who is hired, for how long, and whether there is a disparate impact against minorities who are either under-represented or are not permitted historically to remain with the company for a long period of time. This is not a simple answer and would require a full lawsuit to begin, and at least so far from your facts it is not a clear-cut case so I cannot in good conscience predict if that would be successful. What most do not tell you are that discrimination claims and suits are fairly tough to win because if an employer can show a legitimate reason for disciplinary action or termination, then it is no longer likely deemed discrimination. I am simply being realistic with you because it would be far easier for me to simply tell you that you have a case, make you happy, and then have you potentially loses. I, as a professional, cannot do that because it would be unfair to you and to your particular situation.

Good luck.

Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 38773
Experience: I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.
Dimitry K., Esq. and 6 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSES. I appreciate the explanation and again, your candidness. I am going to put it behind me and start searching for employment. The last thing I need is a lawsuit that would drag on and on because of insufficient evidence. I do feel that it was morally wrong to just dismiss me in the manner in which they did, but I do understand that morals and law rarely mix. Thanks again.
Expert:  Dimitry K., Esq. replied 1 year ago.

xxxxxxxxxx,

You are most welcome, and I mean that genuinely. I do hope that you are able to find a better position quickly and that you can put this behind you. Please be well and I wish you the best amount of success going forward.

Sincerely,

Dimitry, Esq.

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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq.
Attorney at Law
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I provide employment and discrimination law advice in my own practice.