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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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I worked for a staffing company for some ten years where they

Customer Question

I worked for a staffing company for some ten years where they would place me with clients of the firm. I did high end financial consulting and crisis management work. It was acquired by SFN (a big public company based in Florida). In my last assignment, I was working on a for profit education company supporting an audit by the Department of Education. The situation was severe enought that my own company had a lawyer assigned to me advising me as well.

I finished the assignment successfully but some 90 days after the assignment, the CEO of the for profit education company (the client to which I had been assigned for over two years) complained to SFN about something I did. But SFN would never tell me what the CEO's complaint involved. SFN terminated me because of the complaint, terminating me 'for cause' without telling me 'the cause'. I could get no answers from anyone. After ten years (with the acquired company), I would have thought I would at least have been told the nature of the complaint and been allowed an opportunity to respond to it but I was told I had no rights to know the complaint or to respond to the CEO's allegations (whatever they were).

Curiously, the for profit education companyj, i.e. the CEO's company, has no record of the CEO's allegations in my personnel file at all. So there is no record of the CEO's concerns at all. I'm baffled as to how to proceed. The CEO,the CFO, and the VP of Academic Affairs of the for profit school were all terminated sometime later by the Board of Directors.

I feel the fact these terminations demonstrate whatever complaints they had against me are probably biased somehow or efforts to defend themselves. but either way, shouldn't I be entitled to know the nature of a charge against me and have an opportunity to respond to it? is this a complaint I can take to the Labor Board or do I need an attorney?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

Unfortunately, as an at will employee you can be terminated at any time for any reason (including a bad one or none at all, unless the reason is discriminatory) with or without prior notice.

However, in order for your employer to successfully contest your unemployment benefits, your employer needs to be able to prove that you were terminated 'for cause' and not through no fault of your own.

If you file for unemployment benefits, your employer will have to inform EDD of the reasons for your termination in order to attempt to deny you benefits.

Regardless, you should apply for unemployment benefits, which you can do so online here:

If you believe that you have been discriminated against based on a protected characteristic (such as race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, sex, or age) you should file a complaint against your employer with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

You can file a complaint using the instructions available here:
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
so an employer can fire anyone 'for cause' without disclosing the 'cause' to the affected employee?? that's bizarre!
Expert:  Joseph replied 5 years ago.
Yes, it is strange, but, unfortunately, the employer can state the termination is 'for cause' and not disclose the reason for the termination to the employee.

However, if you file for unemployment benefits with EDD, the employer would be required to disclose the reasons for your termination if your employer chooses to contest you being granted unemployment benefits.

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