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1. Do you have a written contract of employment terms with this employer?
2. Any union here?
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S. Joy, Legal Expert
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I signed an emloyee agreement with the company, not a contract. I have been working for them for 2.5 years overseas in Kuwait on a defense contract.
I am not a Union worker
My residence is in the state of Washington
First, I'd check that employee contract to see if it grants you more rights than the law in WA. If it provides you with required performance improvement plans prior to termination, or other such step plans, you could have some contractual rights here for a wrongful discharge.
If your contract doesn't provide that, however, WA does not provide you with these rights. Generally, in the state of WA, if there is no written employment agreement to the contrary, the employer has discretion to dictate the terms of employment; this would include, on a per employee basis (i.e. not all have to get the same treatment), promotions, job changes, lateral moves, salaries, goals (even unrealistic ones), etc. "At will" also includes the mutual right of employee and employer to terminate the relationship at any time, without notice, and for any reason. The only exception is that the employer is more limited in that "any reason" for termination or for differential treatment can not be due to reasons of illegal discrimination, such as discrimination based on race, religion, gender, age, disability, etc.
In your case, because you are pretty certain you were not terminated for intelligent and obvious business reasons, I would look to see if there was feasibly in illegal discriminatory reason for the change. (Go to http://www.eeoc.gov/ for more information on these illegal discriminations.) If there is discrimination, in that you were unfairly and differentially treated as compared to all others, but it is not based on one of these protected areas of discrimination, the employer is not breaking an laws, unfortunately, regardless of how unfair it is being.
I wish the law were a bit more geared toward the employee, but it seems that employers lobby Congress and state legislatures while employees don't (for obvious reasons).
As an aside, if your employer defames you to prospective employers, by making false statements of poor performance (when you know you were not performing poorly in reality), it may be liable civilly for defamation and the resulting financial damages if it prevents you from getting a suitable job, so keep that in mind. Not so easy to prove, but it can be done, if it is happening.
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I believe I have answered your question and I hope you a better understanding of your legal issue as a result. As you know, I am only the messenger, not your attorney, nor can I create favorable law if it doesn't exist, so please don't hold it against me if the legal result is not what you wish. ACCEPTING the Answer a so ensures I will be able to assist your with your future legal question. In addition, Positive "FEEDBACK" and BONUSES are also appreciated. If you would like my assistance in the future, just put my name, STEPHANIE JOY, in your title or first sentence of a new post. Please keep in mind that I can only respond to your post and the information contained in it, as I do not know what you know unless you describe it fully. Also, due to site tech reasons, oftentimes I am initially only able to see the first part of your post, so I apologize in advance if it means more interactions between us. At times, there can also be a delay of an hour or more in between my answers because I may be helping other customers or taking a break, or if it is late at night, I may have to go get some shut eye til morning, but rest assured, I'll be back for you. Thanks
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