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I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Can you tell me what the policies specifically dictated the board do in this situation?
The complaint must be submitted in writing. The complaint must be investigated. In the case of the Board of Directors, they must respond to the complaint in a reasonable time. I received a letter from the Board President on April 27 which said they would respond in seven days, but thus far I have heard nothing.
But to be clear, the policies do state that you're an at-will employee, and that nothing gives you the right to be terminated "for cause" only, correct?
That is correct.
Thank you. At-will employment means that without a contract, you have no contractual or other right to employment with the company. The company is entitled to fire you for any reason: a good reason, a poor reason, or no reason at all--as long as the company does not fire you for an illegal reason (race, gender, age, religion, etc...). It also extends beyond firing, to hiring, promotions, demotions, wage cuts and raises, disciplinary actions, and even scheduling. Unless you can show that this was done in violation of a contract, union agreement, or a clear violation of an unambiguous and binding clause against the employer, or that it was done because of some minority status (age, race, gender, religion, disability) that you have, then they do have this discretion. As for a policy, while they might not have followed the policy, if it does not give you an affirmative right to continued employment (such as a right to be terminated for good cause, etc...) then it would not be actionable under an unlawful termination action.
You could still sue for not following the policy...
The policy creates a "pseudo contract" that they would have to follow. But as in any contractual action you would need to prove "damages".
Damages are what you have lost and that you would not have lost had they not breached that employment policy.
If you can show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that if they had followed the policy that you would not have been terminated, then you might actually have a good claim.
But that is what you would need to prove in this instance.
As for the EEOC, unless you can show that you were terminated because of your race, age, religion, gender, disability, or because of taking protected leave under FMLA, then I'm afraid they would not get involved.
It's not because they don't want to, but it's because they can't. They have limited jurisdiction, and even in a situation where an employer violates a contract or employment policy, the EEOC would not have any jurisdiction over such a case. The state courts would have such jurisdiction.
That being said, if you believe that you can establish a case that if the board had investigated the grievance you would have kept your job, you should contact an attorney in your area that deals with employment law cases. Go to www.lawyers.com or www.legalmatch.com to find an attorney in your area. You should be able to find one that will give you a free initial consultation and better advise you of your rights, any problems with your case, likelihood of success, how courts are treating cases such as yours in your area, and what you should do next.
But if you don't have that evidence (since you would have the burden of proof if you took it to court), even if it were true that you would have kept your job, you would not have a winning case because of your inability to prove it.
I had a contract. Is there any protection against mistreatment for at-will employees? Can they bully or blatantly mistreat employees under this arrangement? Is this policy something that I should discuss my State representative?
If the contract specifically reiterated that you were at-will, then there would not be any additional protections. When I say "without a contract" I mean without a contractual provision that guarantees a specific period of time of employment.
As for bullying and mistreatment, believe it or not this is not illegal. Only where the reason for the bullying and mistreatment is based on race, age, religion, gender, or disability, or is so extreme and outrageous AND results in medically verifiable emotional distress would you have a case against them for any bullying actions (under "intentional infliction of emotional distress")