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My husband is VP at software startup with maybe 500

Hi - my husband...

Hi - my husband is VP at software startup with maybe 500 employees. At a company sales conference last week he got into a a heated conversation (raised voices, profanity, no physical contact) with another VP. The parties involved don't seem bothered, but someone reported this to HR. Apparently a client was within earshot.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you documented this or discussed it with HR?

So now the company is "going through an HR process" deciding whether he should be fired as they have a "zero tolerance" policy for behaivor and alcohol consumption. The HR person called him today to review the incident and told him they will "be going through process" and will get back to him.

Lawyer's Assistant: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?

At will

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

Yes - HR person was grilling him about alcohol consumption. Because it is in company handbook that company has zero tolerance for alcohol related offenses (company is Mormon run). My husband was at company dinner where his wine glass was refilled multiple times while he was having client discussions. Also, he was berated by 2 other drunken colleagues at same conference. Person he had heated conversation was drunkenly busy discussing physical attributes of female colleague half his age. And client propositioned him through sales person. So - a lot of bad behavior.

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Answered in 7 minutes by:
3/14/2018
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,122
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified

Thank you for trusting your question to JA today. I am a licensed attorney with over a decade of law practice and over 20 years of experience in the legal field. I’m happy to be of assistance. (The system will automatically generate a phone call request to you. Unless I specifically state, during our discussion, that a phone call is possible, I intend to just use this chat format as I am not in a position to accept a phone call).

While it certainly sounds like there was a lot of bad behavior going on, I'm not sure how that figures into any question you may have here. The employer can legally choose to hold him accountable singularly, even if others were not behaving appropriately. A client heard the exchange, making it relevant to the workplace and so the employer can take action based on that.

You are certain welcome to follow up with any questions that you may have, but I see nothing illegal in the facts that you have outlined so far.

If you have any further questions or other facts that you would like me to consider, please let me know. I invite follow up questions, so use REPLY for those. If you have no further questions then good luck going forward and please do not forget to rate my service with a three, a four or preferably a five star rating so that I receive credit for working with you today. Please rate me based on my service and not on your satisfaction with the law, which I am not in control of and I am just reporting to you. Please DON’T rate my service until after you have asked any follow up questions that you have, so that I have the best opportunity to earn all 5 stars. Also, feel free to request me in the future, if you have questions concerning a different matter.

Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,122
Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation
Verified
Allen M., Esq. and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
They seem to be focusing on alcohol consumption. Does a company have the legal right require my husband to attend a company dinner, refill his glass repeatedly without his knowledge or consent and then institute an hr process to consider firing him for violating the company's "zero tolerance" on alcohol related incidents?

They can focus on that, if they wish. There is nothing illegal about that.

Yes, they can require that he attend a dinner where there is alcohol. Having alcohol at a location does not necessitate alcohol related incidents, so there is nothing illegal about having a "zero tolerance" policy related to alcohol related incidents. There is no fundamental conflict there.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
You seem to be ignoring that waiters repeatedly refilled his glass without his knowledge or consent.

Ma'am, I am not ignoring that at all. It is just not legally relevant.

I want to be delicate here, because I'm not trying to be insulting at all. Waiters can only refill a glass that is being emptied. Some responsibility then is placed on the person emptying it.

The fact that the waiters refilled his glass is common in many restaurants. The issue here is that there was an alcohol related incident and just because alcohol is present somewhere does not necessitate that there will be an alcohol related incident. That typically requires excessive consumption and responsibility for that can legally be placed on the consumer.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have spent thousands on Just Answer legal advice. You are the first lawyer (?) I have encountered who is made no effort to provide thoughtful advice. Most I have been incredibly impressed by. You have outed yourself as a misogynist with little interest in performing the service for which you are being paid.

I am simply being honest about the law here.

The attempts to insult me and call me names, while understandable given that I can't give you the answer you want here, are without need or effect. I am an attorney of a few decades and have practiced in this area for a long time. I take no pleasure in giving you bad news. I'm just respecting you enough to be honest with you.

As for the "mysognist" remark, I'm not sure how you see that. I'm from the south and Ma'am is a term of respect. As a JAG, I specialize in prosecuting sexual assaults, so I'm fairly secure in my respect for women.

Again, I'm sorry that I cannot give you the answer you want to hear, but nothing that you have described is illegal from an employment law stand point.

Take care.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have consulted qualified, thoughtful employment lawyers in the past. Let me give you an example as to how a higher level attorney approaches things. I was in a group that was drastically downsized. They didn't want to get rid of me as I was one of very few senior women at firm. They gave me insulting job assignments. They lawyer I consulted said that short of handing me a broom I had no cause under employment. But he gave me a bunch of things to look out for. One - if company explicitly said they were not longer engaging in business for which I had been hired. They did ultimately admit this and I got 1 years severance and a hefty bonus. So if that attorney had just given the cursory "Ma'am, I want to be delicate here..." you have no case... I would be short $500k. So thankfully, I have encounters with lawyers vastly more thoughtful and competent than you.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I have consulted qualified, thoughtful employment lawyers in the past. Let me give you an example as to how a higher level attorney approaches things. I was in a group that was drastically downsized. They didn't want to get rid of me as I was one of very few senior women at firm. They gave me insulting job assignments. They lawyer I consulted said that short of handing me a broom I had no cause under employment law. But he gave me a bunch of things to look out for. One - if company explicitly said they were not longer engaging in business for which I had been hired. They did ultimately admit this and I got 1 years severance and a hefty bonus. So if that attorney had just given the cursory "Ma'am, I want to be delicate here..." you have no case... I would be short $500k. So thankfully, I have had encounters with lawyers vastly more thoughtful and competent than you.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
You never asked what state we live in - you are not legitimate.
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Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq.
Allen M., Esq., Employment Lawyer
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 20,122
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Experience: Employment/Labor Law Litigation

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