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I am in a toxic work environment. I just submitted my

I am in a...

I am in a toxic work environment. I just submitted my resignation. I gave 3 months notice as I am a chief operations officer, it will be hard to replace me. the CEO is a bully and uses intimidation to control employees. I believe he will fire me now. what are my rights, does he have to pay me through the end of my employment? I believe he will retaliate.

Lawyer's Assistant: Have you discussed the termination with a manager or HR? Or with a lawyer?

I am "second" in command, the CEO is my manager. I have discussed this with our Chief Medical Officer and a consultant. HR is useless.

Lawyer's Assistant: Are you an "at will" employee? Do you belong to a union?

No

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

I've been an employee there for 34 years. Due to a redesign he became CEO 2 years ago. Prior to that I flourished under a different manager.

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Answered in 16 minutes by:
3/25/2018
Attorney Wendy
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,387
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
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Hello. My name is ***** ***** I am an attorney. I am working on a response to your question and should have that to you shortly.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you

First, I am so sorry you are in this situation. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have been with a company so long and under what sound like very productive and positive conditions and to now be feeling forced to resign.

Most states are what are considered at-will employment states, meaning that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason or no reason, as long as the reason is not an unlawful one (something like discrimination). If you let me know what state you are in, I can verify whether it is an at-will state or not.

That said, in most instances unless there is a written employment specifying that you will be employed for a specific amount of time, the employer can terminate you during a notice period following your resignation. You would want to characterize this going forward as a resignation - not termination (as the termination only occurred because you had already resigned) - where you were not required to work during your notice period. This will be important for purposes of how you describe the situation to any future/potential employers. You may also consider whether you are actually experiencing what is known as a constructive discharge - which means your work environment was so hostile that you had no choice but to resign. The problem is that if the hostility is not unlawful under anti-discrimination laws, you may have no legal claim for this unless it breached some employment contract.

In connection with the hostile environment, if the company has 15 or more employees, it must comply with all federal anti-discrimination laws (your state may also have similar legal requirements). This means that if the hostility and intimidation is based on your membership in a protected class - in other words based on race, gender, age, religion, and the like - then you may have protection against such conduct. If, on the other hand, this CEO is just a bad manager who treats everyone badly that is bad for business, but unfortunately not illegal. If you think you may be protected by anti-discrimination laws, I am happy to provide more information on those and the filing of claims. If not, I have provided some other thoughts below.

You mentioned a redesign that put this person in charge. If the corporate structure is such that there may be directors on the board of directors or shareholders/owners who you have a good working relationship with and who you could take your concerns about the CEO to, that may be worth considering. Often employees feel helpless when the problem at work is at the chain of command, but where that top level manager is not also the majority owner of a company you may have other options. Also, as you are also an officer, you should have somewhere to go with complaints about even the CEO.

I hope this information is helpful. If you need additional assistance, please reply to this email. If I answered your question and provided excellent service, I would greatly appreciate your 5 star rating at this time.

Please note: This information is ​for educational purposes only and is not legal advice. No course of action is being proposed and no attorney-client relationship or privilege has been formed as a result of this conversation.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Washington and there is a board of directors

Washington is an at-will employment state unless your termination violates a public policy of the state of Washington or there is an implied contract. Under certain circumstances, an implied contract can be deemed to exist as the result of things like company issued employee handbooks. It may be worth - if your company has such a handbook - reviewing to see if the CEO is violating any of the company's own adopted policies and procedures. And, as second in command, you may want to see if one or more of the directors would call a meeting to discuss the issues you are having. As you already put in your resignation, they may be less interested but given your long years of service to the company it is worth considering as you may be able to find a way to stay, particularly if you believe the management style of the new CEO is damaging the productivity not just of you but of the company as a whole.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
He has violated HR policies and there is an implied contract.

Then you may want to reconsider your resignation (of course that is a very personal decision for you) and instead try to see if others involved in the company would actually do something to address the issues with him, including even possible removal as CEO. You are, of course, in a better position to know if that is possible. Also, if he has violated policy and those violations have directly impacted you, you may want to report those to the HR department or whoever handles your HR matters, as such a report might provide you some additional protection from any retaliation during your notice period.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
The entire organization receives annual evaluations and raises. He declined both for me

Then you should definitely consider a formal complaint to HR about that issue as well. The main decision you have to make at this point is whether you want to resign or whether you want to seek assistance to these issues from HR and the Board of Directors. You may also need to decide, if you want to stay with the company, how and if the company will allow you to withdraw your resignation.

As mentioned earlier, claims for unequal or hostile treatment would depend on whether you were treated differently or with hostility because of your race, gender, religion, age, and the like. The law doesn't provide any real protection from just general hostility.

Attorney Wendy
Category: Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 1,387
Experience: Member at Keefer & Keefer LLC
Verified
Attorney Wendy and 87 other Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
That's sad. Thank you for your time.
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