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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 18811
Experience:  Employment/Labor Law Litigation
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I quit my job because I was under investigation

Customer Question

I quit my job because I was under investigation for sending improper text messages. Do I have any rights.
Submitted: 8 months ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Hello and welcome. I am very sorry to hear about this situation. When you ask if you have any "rights," can you be more specific? What exactly are you wondering if you have a right to? I very much look forward to helping you on this matter.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Its a pretty long story. Ill do my best to explain.I have worked in this industry for 25 years. I quite because I thought a scandal like this would ruin my career. I am still very concerned that because information of the company leaked out before I was aware and now I am concerned that I will not be able to be employed again if companies call my former employer for a reference. I filed unemployment and they told the rep that I quit because I was being investigated for sexual harassment and should I have not quit they would have fired me. they also told her that they stopped the investigation because I quit. My guess is they did not or should not have stopped the investigation.
One week prior to being questioned by the corporate HR, I was send messages from a fiend whos sister I got a job. She alerted me to the fact that I was going to be fired for sexual harassment of the local HR admin. A week later I was brought in to the office by the HR manager and HR corporate regional director and asked questions about messages I sent to the HR admin and the girls sister who I hired.
I had what I thought was a good relationship with the HR admin and we joked around perhaps in the role I had with the company it was improper but nevertheless I was never made aware by the HR admin that there was a problem. In fact just a few days prior to the warning I received by my friend, the HR admin and I had a conversation in which she mentioned she was at a bar with 7 male friends and her family and she left with the seven guys and her dad accused her of having a gangbang.
As far as the sister again I agree that many of the text messages where improper because of the position that I held in the company but again there was no sign of her having an issue with me other than the last conversation we had which I believe set her off. I told her not to be ungrateful because she kept complaining about not having anything to do on the third shift and she wanted me to hire her friend which I refused to. All messages that I sent her were from my personal phone and I don't recall sending her messages during working hours.
I may be reading too far into this but I believe that my boss was not very happy with my performance. In fact when I first met the new HR corporate director I made some comments about my boss being a micromanager and not knowing how to do his job. I didn't know that he and my boss were good friends.
I also made some comments to my boss that I was not happy with the way the were failing to fix safety issues at this plant.
This company has a major issues with hexavalent exposure to its employees and to the environment. I took many pictures of what they were doing but the HR Corp Direct took my phone away and I could not retrieve the emails or pictures.
I have been struggling to decided whether to call regulatory agencies to whistleblower because I am afraid that they'll retaliate and let people know about the sexual harassment investigation. I am not sure if they are related but I think its a great coincident that HR came after me the way they did for such ridiculous claims.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. Unfortunately, something has come up for me today and I must opt out of this question in favor of other experts. Please do not respond to this message, as it will delay a response from someone else. Someone else should be with you very shortly. Best regards ***** ***** luck.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance. First, I wanted to address the questions that I believe relate to these facts and then open up the question for you to REPLY and ask any follow up questions that you may have. In terms of the decision to resign, that would not prevent the employer from telling potential employers that called for a reference that you were being investigated for sexual harassment. The law on this is that the former employer can say anything that is true, and that is in fact true. Now, just because they can do so does not mean that they will, so the former employer could choose not to divulge that information. Now, if they were deciding not to tell people and you then reported the exposure issues to OSHA, then any notification on their part then would be a form of retaliation for your having made the OSHA complaint. However, if they had already been telling prospective employers, it wouldn't be a form of retaliation because they'd be doing no differently than they already had been doing. So, what does this mean? It means you need to apply to jobs, listing them as a reference, so that you can see what their base line behavior is. You can't establish that your OSHA complaint results in retaliation unless you factually establish that they were not telling prospective employers about this issue BEFORE you made the OSHA report. So, you need to hold on the OSHA filing for a while, allowing yourself time to establish just what this employer is going to be doing when called for references. If they tell prospective employers about this issue from the beginning (before an OSHA complaint), then you know that matters won't be any worse following an OSHA complaint and you can just go ahead and make it. If you have any further questions, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a top-three rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
I was under the impression that former employers could not say anything that can keep you from getting the job other than answer that they would not re-employ me but not specify why. Also, I want to know if it made sense for me to resign since I didn't feel I did anything wrong. I didn't know it was against the law to text employees out of work. Keep in mind I knew one of these ladies before she came t work with me. As far as the HR admin she never made me aware that I was making her feel uncomfortable in fact I could make the same claims about her.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
Unfortunately, your impression on that issue is not the law. Many employers work under that policy because they are concerned about or are ignorant about the law of "defamation of character." However, the reality is that there is no such limitation at all. A former employer can say anything that is true. As for your other statements, I want to make clear that I am not saying that you are guilty here. In employment law, that is not really the question. Employers aren't courts. They aren't bound by the rules of a criminal process. They just have to meet the very low standard of having a reasonable, good faith basis to believe that an offense took place. With that very low burden, there didn't need to be evidence that you knew this could be considered against company policy. There doesn't need to be evidence that shows you knew the HR person was uncomfortable. The texts alone are sufficient evidence to suggest that sexual harassment was taking place, at least from the prospective of one person (the HR lady). Your intent is not legally relevant to that discussion. So, while I think it'd be very unlikely that you could be criminal charged for harassment or even civilly sued for it, that isn't the question for the employer. They have a reasonable, good faith basis to believe an offense occurred and you were being investigated for it. Those are true statements and so they absolutely can make those statements to anyone that asks them.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
What about the fact that I was warned by a person outside of the company before I was notified that I was being investigated and they told me that a supervisor told them that I was going to be fired. is there anything I can do about that?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
No, there isn't. There is nothing in the law that makes disciplinary actions in the workplace confidential, so the fact that someone outside knew isn't legally an issue. Additionally, the idea that the employer had already reached a conclusion before notifying you is not an issue. Again, they are a not a court so the concepts of due process don't apply.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
Can they really say that I resigned because I was being instigated to my potential employers. Isn't it n assumption on their part since I resigned and didn't quite specify why I was resigning.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
They can say that you resigned and at the time of your resignation you were under investigation. Those are two true statements. Saying that you resigned because you were under investigation is a reasonable inference from the facts, as most people don't just resign from work. This is particularly true if you stated no other reason for resigning in your notice.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
can the company come after me if one of the claimants sues. also can I leave them off my resume since I only worked for them for 6 months.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
The company can't come after you. If the company is sued it will be based on their own personal liability. You can only be sued directly by the individual claiming the harassment. Yes, you can certainly leave off your former employer from your resume. This can result in questions about the work gap or if prospective employers find out someone was left off, they could not hire you or later terminate you on that basis. But there is nothing legally requiring you to put them down.
Customer: replied 8 months ago.
does it make sense for me to hire an attorney to personally investigate the accusations made against me to try to vindicate me and possibly get my job back?
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 8 months ago.
No, it wouldn't make any difference. The employer wouldn't have to let the attorney on the property to investigate. Even if it were proven that the allegations were false, you wouldn't have to be given your job back. All you could do is sue the individual that made the accusations. However, if there are texts that you sent, you can't prove the accusations are false. All you can do is call into question your motives, not the actual fact that the texts took place. At best, ***** ***** were sued, you could avoid being found liable.
Expert:  Allen M., Esq. replied 7 months ago.
Hello, I wanted to check in and make sure that there was not any additional information that you required. If you need further assistance, please use REPLY and ask me for any additional information you may need. If not, take care and have a great day.

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