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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 11272
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was working in a family business until 8-24-2015 when I

Customer Question

I was working in a family business until 8-24-2015 when I was terminated and told this was due to my brother-in-law not wanting me in the company. I suffered many untruths, punishments, insults, and humiliation while I was their. My husband was my direct supervisor & Vice President, his brother, president, and his sister, all are board members.
I have been trying to put this behind me. A co-worker, had me translate a letter from my brother and sister-in-law to him that stated employees were not allowed to have visitors/family on the yard and this was his final warning and he would be terminated immediately if it happened again. I got permission to take this letter to his supervisor, my husband, since the employee was not aware of any visitors/family. My husband was not aware of any either. He took the letter to his brother and learned that I was being accused of having lunch their many times with this employee. I have not been doing this.
My husband talked with other employees and they all said they had not seen me there. Now my brother-in-law is going through my phone records and is complaining about texts I receive. It is a company phone. I feel violated, insulted, and harassed and no one seems to be able to stop my brother-in law. I was just beginning to heal from my earlier scars with him when I worked there. Is there anything that can be done?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. I am very sorry to hear about this situation.

Unfortunately, employees do not have any legally enforceable expectation of privacy with respect to a company-provided phone. The phone is considered company property and as such the employer retains the right to review messages sent and received from it. So, that would not be a violation of any law.

As for your termination, the general rule is that employment in the state of VA is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.

So, it would not be illegal to terminate an employee based on the false belief--or even the fabricated allegation--that you were seeing visitors on the yard. You can also lawfully be terminated simply because your employer no longer "wants you in the company," even if their reason is completely arbitrary or personal.

So, it is with regret I must tell you that nothing in the facts you have described would suggest you have any legal recourse here. I do wish I could provide better news, but I trust you will appreciate and honest and straight forward answer to your question so that you can move on.

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. If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 11 months ago.

Hello again,

I just wanted to followup with you to make sure that you did not have any further questions or concerns. For some unknown reason, the experts are not always getting replies or ratings (which is how we get credit for our work) that the customer thinks have gone through. In your case I have not yet received either. If you are having technical difficulties with reading, replying or rating, please let me know so that I can inform the site administrator.

In any event, it was a pleasure assisting you and I would be glad to attempt to assist you further on this issue, or a new legal issue, if needed.

Very best wishes.