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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 12945
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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I was wrongfully terminated at my job yesterday after 5

Customer Question

I was wrongfully terminated at my job yesterday after 5 years of service. Two employees had made a statement to HR saying that I had said that the powers that be were going to try and promote here because of her chest. I was there on my day off and just stopping in for something and I had someone with me that heard the same conversation. The female behind the counter actually was the one that made the comment. While I was at work yesterday I went to the back to take out some garbage and the store mgr and district manager were back there and ask to speak to me for a second. They explained what I had been accused of and I told them no I did not say those things. Then they kept saying that two employees said the same thing. I didn't get talked to by hr at all. The next thing I know the dm said based on the two statements the hr person said that I was going to have to be terminated. No proof of anything including the person that witnessed the entire thing on my day off no less. I would like to know if I can do anything about this at all. I also found out that the person who supposedly made the complaint was asked by the dm to write a statement saying this. That she didn't start the drama but she did what the district manager asked. I had a previous incident of the same type and asked to be moved to another location. It literally broke me down to the point of having to see a psychiatrist be put on medication and be on short term diability for 3 months because of the emotional and mental stress of it all. I came back to work in January of this year and have been working towards getting promoted to a store manager. I was told that because of the previous incident that the district manager wouldn't feel comfortable putting me in that position. The company itself well my district at least has been trying to be more diverse as they say which from the way it has been explained in so many words if you are a female you go to the head of the line. I've had 10 years of store management experience before I walked into this company 5 years ago and still an assistant manager. I've been in this industry for atleast a decade now and love what I do and do it well. This seems to planned and easy for it to be anything else. There was no investigation that I know of other than what they told me. They asked me if I said that the female would get promoted because of her boobs and I said no in fact she was the one who said it. I also had a witness to the conversation that could back it up. Next thing I know is the dm said the hr lady stated that because there was two statements saying otherwise that I had to be termed. If that's the case why did they even ask me? I even contacted hr and they said they couldn't take my witnesses statement because she wasn't an employee. Which doesn't make any sense. Please help
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

I am extremely sorry to hear that you were let go and agree that the circumstances were unfair. Unfortunately, however, employment in the state of TN is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even TRUE.

Thus, there is nothing illegal about being terminated based on the false belief that you made an inappropriate statement. You might be able to sue the employees who falsely claims that you made this statement, but that would be a lawsuit against those individuals in their personal capacity, it would not be a lawsuit against your employer. The problem with such lawsuit would be proof, though. It would essentially be "word against word," and they are two people and you are only one. You have the burden of proof as the plaintiff. This is not the recipe for a strong lawsuit. Given that lawsuits cost a lot of time and money to pursue, it probably would be unwise to pursue a lawsuit on this basis. Not to mention that even if you obtained a judgment you would then have to collect it, and these individuals may very well be incapable of paying any significant sum in damages.

Thus, from a practical and legal standpoint, I'm afraid to say that it's unlikely there is much that can be done under these circumstances. It is highly unfortunate, but most likely your sole recourse is going to be applying for unemployment benefits and seeking new work.

I hope that you find this information helpful and am genuinely sorry if it is not what you were hoping to hear. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.