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Joseph, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 5299
Experience:  Extensive experience representing employees and management
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Am executive director of a non-profit have board members who

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Am executive director of a non-profit have board members who undermine my authority with one staff member whom they socialize with.. This is creating an impossible work enviorment, as the board members discuss isues beyond an employees need to know. This staff members will leave on medical leave in two weeks, due to funding I don't plan on her return. This employee has numerous political connections, and uses these connections to undermine me as well. I have been with this non-profit for 14 years.
But how can I correct this problem in the future? Should I hire an attorney? We have a board policy manual that forbades this type of relationship and conduct. Due to conflict of interest etc...
Hello and welcome to JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope I can help.

Can you tell me if this employee is an at-will employee or not?

Also, is the employee going on a form of protected medical leave (FMLA, CFRA, etc.) or just regular medical leave?

Finally, have you talked to board members about the inappropriate relationship with the employee and confronted them that their relationship violates the board policy manual?
Hello Vicki,

Once again, I'm sorry to hear about your situation and hope to be able to help.

My goal is to provide you with excellent service.

An attorney really wouldn't help you avoid this kind of situation in the future, as it does seem quite unique based on your board members' relationship with this employee, her particular political connections, etc.

However, if the employee is going on a form of protected medical leave (like FMLA, only available if there are 50 or more employees) you would definitely want to try to avoid terminating her while she is out on leave. Unless you would be able to prove that her position needed to be eliminated out of pure economic necessity, it would be inadvisable, because you could open up yourself and the non-profit to a suit based on discrimination and/or retaliation for her use of medical leave.

Additionally, even if this is not the case (and there are fewer than 50 employees), you are prohibited from discriminating against the employee on the basis of a disability (if the medical leave is for one, including pregnancy), and could also be in hot water if you were to terminate the employee without trying to provide her with a reasonable accommodation.

All in all, it would definitely be best to wait till after she returns from leave, unless her position can definitely not be supported economically, in which case you would be able to terminate her.

Other than revising board rules, or getting the board members to follow the rules in place, it seems difficult to control for this potential problem in the future, and there's no real legal way to do so. If the board members and/or employee are violating rules, then you could seek to dismiss the members and/or terminate the employee.

Also, assuming this employee (and any future ones) are at-will. You can terminate her at any time for any reason with or without any prior notice, which would definitely include insubordination for her undermining your authority as executive director of the non-profit.

I hope the above information is helpful.

Please let me know if you have any follow up or clarifying questions.

Thanks and best of luck!
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