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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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I worked for a company for 5 months and after my 90 days I

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I worked for a company for 5 months and after my 90 days I receive an outstanding review and receive many complements on how much of a hard worker I am and I put my heart and soul into my job performance. I was told my HR and my direct supervisor that my concerns and issues on an individual that was not a manger, whom continued to complain and nit pick my performance, to not worry about and that I was not the problem. I was also told by my direct supervisor, whom is the office manager, that I am not the problem and this certain individual needs to adjust with changes. My supervisor also said that it is a mystery that this individual changed as soon as I started working there and it is not me, it's just a mystery and to hang in there and to continued to keep her in the loop. I did ask my supervisor if she is sure that she wants me to in loop, that I can just rise above this and keep smiling and just realize this is an issue with that individual. She said her office is an open forum and any concerns please let me and hang there. The very next day I was fired due to the fact HR and Supervisor said I just was not the right fit for there culture. I need advise on where I could file a complaint when in fact I did exactly what management advised me to do. Please help, because now I am unemployed.
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.

I hope that you will appreciate everything I am about to tell you, although it is not entirely favorable to your position.

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 you do not have a contract that guarantees you employment for a specified term, and assuming that you are not a public sector employee, you are an "at-will" employee. As an at will employee, you are free to leave your job at any time. In exchange, your employer is free to change the requirements, promote, terminate or demote you as it sees fit and without reason--even if you perceive the reasons to be just plain "unfair."

One exception to the above is if you feel you were terminated as the result of discrimination. However, typically a valid cause of action would only exist if you can prove that you employer let you go on the basis of your sex, gender, race, ancestry, national origin, color, sexual orientation, religion, medical disability (including HIV/AIDS diagnosis), marital status, age (40 and over), or other protected category.

Another potential cause of action would exist if you believe that the "problem" employee was making statements about you that were untrue ("defaming" you) and that those statements were the basis for your employer's decision to let you go. You would be able to collect damages from the offending employee on a civil theory of defamation. However, as the plaintiff, you would bear the burden of proof in bringing this claim and you would need more than just a suspicion that she made such statements. Further, such statements would need to be statements of FACT, not mere statements of opinion. For example, "Jane is incompetent" would be a statement of opinion because it is subject. However, "Jane stole all my files" would be a statement of fact because it is either true or false.

I hope that this information assists you in deciding what to do. Please remember to click "accept" so that I get paid for my time. Thank you kindly.

Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Thanks so much Legal Expert!Smile


Yes,I too wondered if my termination was under that "at will" clause. Also, I forgot to mention that on top of all that, the employer did give me a severance. Is that because they felt guilty on letting a valuable employee (me) go? As I mentioned in my question they said I was a bonus to their office in my review.


Now, I need help on what to say to future employers when they ask me in my interviews, why I was let go from my previous employer. For an example, I was planning on saying " I was let go due to business operations reconstructioning and I although I was employed for only 5 months they gave me a generous severance and HR said I can receive Unemployment Insurance". Will my answer in bold work for me getting out of saying I was fired? I need to know because I need a new job fast. It is absolutely the truth about Unemplyoment Isurance and the serverance.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
Your explanation sounds fine, but "business operations reconstructioning" sounds like you were part of a mass layoff. As an alternative, you could say that you were released because it was determined that you were not a good fit at the company but that the decision was not based upon deficiencies in your performance and that you remain on good terms with your former employer.

I hope this helps and good luck.
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I am sorry but i am not that comfortable on saying i wasn't a good fit. Won't the interviewer take that as a negative? Also, is it normal for a company to give an employee that only worked for them for 5 months a severance, if they weren't the right fit?


Sorry i am just a bit confused.......

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 5 years ago.
I think it would probably be fair to say that you were released as part of a corporate restructuring. That way, you're not even addressing the issue of whether you were released for cause. It's a very neutral way of describing what happened and does not require you to lie.

Typically, companies offer severance to ensure that they won't be sued, not because the employee was necessarily a good employee. Hope this helps.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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