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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
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Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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after complaining of employee inapropiate behavier, manager

Resolved Question:

after complaining of employee inapropiate behavier, manager refuses to give owners name of witneses to conduct proper inverstigation. What can owner do legaly to have manager work on owners side?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. It would be great if you could provide some more detail for me. What was the inappropriate behavior that was complained of? Are you the one that did the complaining? Are you an employee at this company, or were you a patron? Thanks so much for the clarification. Your additional information will allow me to assist you more effectively.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am the owner/ vice president of small busines

Dept manager e-mail me about an employee coment,[ this employee happens to be a member of my family], Employee: Just wait, I will be the floor manager and you [refering to another co-worker] can be the department manager, that will be great! Dep manager thinks that my relative has inforation regarding his position that we are not disclosing to him. Dept. manager feels his job is in danger. I explain to Dep manager that his job is by no means being cuestion by me. Dept. manager asked me to talk to this employee wich I am about to do but then is not willing to cooparate with any information to do proper investigation. Now Dept. manger tells me just ignore the issue. I can not ignore it I want to adress it in the best way posible, in a legal way. advise

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
I see, that clarifies things for me.

You should know that although there are prohibitions in California law regarding nepotism (the act of favoring one's one kin) in the public sector, nepotism in private sector employment is generally permissible. This means that an employer is typically free to hire or promote a family member on the basis of the familial relationship, unless the hiring decision otherwise constitutes discrimination or is in violation of other California laws.

Further, in your situation, it doesn't even appear as though you were actually engaging in or attempting to engage in nepotism--the statement that you are concerned about was made by the employee and not you personally, and cannot be attributed to you.

California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other." Assuming that your manager does not have a contract that guarantees him or her employment for a specified term, he or she is an "at-will" employee. As an at will employee, your manager is free to leave the job at any time, and in exchange, you are free to change the requirements, promote, terminate or demote him or her as you see fit and without reason.

Since nepotism in private sector employment is generally permissible, you are likely under no obligation to address or investigate the "incident" that you have described. However, you can typically condition continued employment on participation in such investigation if you so choose. If the employee won't participate and you don't wish to terminate them, there's not much that you can do, though there is also likely not much of anything that you NEED to do.

I hope that you find this information helpful in deciding what to do. Bear in mind that none of the above constitutes legal advice, and PLEASE click "accept" so that I will be paid for my time. Thanks so much.


If my answer has been helpful to you, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button directly above. I will not get credit for assisting you or receive payment for my work unless you do this. Your question will not close after you click "accept," and you will still be able to ask follow-up questions if necessary.
The only facts I know about your situation are the ones that you tell me, so please try to be specific and bear in mind that, occasionally, miscommunications will occur. I will do everything I can to clarify my answer if I have misunderstood your question. Also bear in mind that the law does not always read how we think it should. I ask that you be understanding if an opinion I have provided is not consistent with what you wanted to hear.
Finally, the information that I have provided is not legal advice. I am not acting as your attorney and my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. I encourage you to consult with a local attorney in regard to legal matters.

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Just one more thing

Is a business manager in any way obligated to give owners full cooperation regarding

his-her employees essues or is it OK for a manager to tell owners I choose to tell you this but not that[ all related to business , employees, customer activities]

my dept manager has a strong personality is like walking in eggshells

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
The manager is obligated only in the sense that as an at-will employee, he or she is freely terminable by the owner in the event he or she refuses to cooperate (in accordance with the limitations described above). If the incident were involving a crime or allegation of actionable harassment, there may be a separately imposed duty to cooperate, but here there typically is not. Hope this helps clarify.
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