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I was terminated after 8 years as a Manager with L'Oreal NY,

reason for termination being "conflict...
I was terminated after 8 years as a Manager with L'Oreal NY, reason for termination being "conflict of interest".
This C.O.I. being my activity in setting up a USA company for my son (he is Australian) - which would provide products online (specifically and only for the online deal sites such as Groupon, KGB etc). Products would include organic skincare, organic vitamin and wellness products, organic yoga items , music books etc.
Not only had I mentioned my desire to do this several times a) at group events i.e. managers meetings when we were asked in front of the entire team (including my direct boss VP of sales, AND my VP of marketing) to tell the group something about ourselves, but spoke openly about to several other managers and in depth to my COO.
I did not hide the fact, and undertook the set up in my own name and address, hardly the MO for someone trying to be sneaky or elusive.
The goal was to set it up and then my son would travel to the USA and take over the company - leaving me to continue my much-loved career with L'Oreal.
When appearing at the NY offices for my end of year appraisal (for 2010) I was shocked to be taken into the HR office and told that "We can no longer go ahead with you at L'Oreal, due to your outside behavior, which is deemed as a conflict of interest".
I was also told if I spoke about this to anyone I could expect "L'Oreal to come after me" Quote.
My discussing of my goals re this took place over a year or so, and not once did any of my immediate managers say to me - "Alex you absolutely cannot do that and/or you will lose your position with us". Although we have a standard code of conduct, I ask myself why would no-one say anything all those months?
We had an open and friendly relationship in our management team, which would have been very conducive of a comment.
At my termination, my GM said (after I mentioned the many times I had spoken of it) " I thought it was only a hobby".
I was stripped on my blackberry and marched out of the building like some kind of criminal. In hindsight I always thought it weird they also said they would pay me 2 weeks severance, and not challenge unemployment claims, but threatened me to not discuss this with anyone.
I held a high position as National Manager and my Dept (just myself) performed above my fellow Managers in returns ($'s) in a unique role. I am having enormous trouble even getting menial jobs and on reflection would like to discuss the situation with an employment lawyer who is not afraid to possibly go up against the mighty L'Oreal.
Anyone out there willing to discuss please?
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Answered in 13 minutes by:
2/29/2012
Delta-Lawyer
Delta-Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,546
Experience: In-House Counsel & Litigator
Verified

I hope this message finds you well, present circumstances excluded. I am assuming that you did not have an employment contract with L'Oreal which stated the exact grounds you could be terminated for and what type of notice should be given. If you did not have an employment contract, then you were necessarily employed at will. This unfortunately means that L'Oreal could terminate you for any reason or no reason at all.

With that being said, it is odd that they did not give you warning given the level of your position within the company to step away from the outside job or you will face termination.

It sounds as though you have an adult son. This could be a case of age discrimination. If so, you may have had a claim against L'Oreal for violation of federal laws preventing discrimination under the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You have to file notice with the EEOC of your claim within 90 days of termination and it sounds as though that time might have passed.

You may be able to bring a suit against L'Oreal in state court based on a breach of implied contract or for violation of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. The State of New York does not recognize the covenant of good faith and fair dealing as an exception to employment at will status, but it is a viable cause of action otherwise.

In both scenarios, you are suing because you believe that L'Oreal has treated you unfairly based on your work history and an implied contract that they would not treat you in this manner. I must warn you that this would be an uphill battle, but it may be your only avenue of recovery.

I wish I had better news for you overall, but I am obligated to tell you the legal reality of the situation, and not something that sounds good but has not truth in reality.

In short, you may have a cause of action against L'Oreal for breath of implied contract or unlawful termination. However, this suit will be an uphill battle all of the way because the legal presumption favors the employer in this scenario absent a written employment contract.

I hope this helps and I appreciate the opportunity to assist you.

I wish you the best going forward.

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Customer reply replied 6 years ago
This is great information thank-you. If I were your client would you advise moving forward although it would be an uphill battle?
I know L'Oreal HATE having these things go to court and often settle to keep their name out of the news.......

Absolutely. You most definitely need to move forward. Just prepare yourself for an uphill battle and don't get unrealistic as to what to expect. It is unlikely you will recoup millions, but you may be able to settle for a lesser amount that still rewards you and sends a message at the same time.

Once the discovery process starts in the law suit, your attorney may be able to find more damning information that may escalate things in your favor relative to unlawful termination or a like cause.

Delta-Lawyer
Delta-Lawyer, Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 3,546
Experience: In-House Counsel & Litigator
Verified
Delta-Lawyer and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 6 years ago
Quick Q: can you suggest a good lawyer who might like this case - I have since moved to FLorida and think I will need a tough NY, NJ type. Any thoughts or perhaps you might be interested?
I couldn't take the case, although I'm flattered. There are some great employment law attorneys in New York, as you can imagine. I've dealt with a massive firm of White & Case in Manhatten and have been extremely impressed. They are located on 6th Avenue at midtown. Start with them and their employment law department.
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