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Termination of employment immediately was working (remote)

Termination of employment immediatelyJohn was...
Termination of employment immediatelyJohn was working (remote) for employer 1. Then started to work (remote) for employer 2 while not quitting the job at employer 1. He did not tell either of the employers of his dual employment. One day John's boss at employer 1 quit his job and join employer 2, John then quit his job with employer 1 before the boss started at employer 1. In fact John quit his job at employer 1 just three days before the boss started his job at employer 1.John then just was working for employer 2. After one month, the boss who started at employer 1 found out that John had dual employment (both employer 1 and employer 2) for 3.5 months. The boss (employee at employer 1 and former employer 2) then reported John's dual employment to employer 2. Employer 2 started an internal investigation to John. At the beginning of the investigation, John did not want to answer questions (mostly admitting dual employment) before seeking legal consultation. The investigator told John that even if he does not know what decision (terminate him or not) the employer 2 make, they(employer 2) does not like dishonest, or lie during the investigation. John then confirmed his dual employment to the investigator. About one week later, John was fired by employer 2 for the reason of violation of business code of conduct and ethics.John started job at employer 2 about 5 months ago. He received a sign-on bonus then. In the sign-on bonus contract, John has to pay back the sign-on bonus if he quit the job, or fired due to illegal conduct before completing 12 month employment period. The contract may also mentioned code of conduct stuff.If the employer 2 require John to pay back the sign-on bonus, or deduct the sign-on bonus from his last pay check, does John has any legal option? The employment is at will, do John has any option against employer 2? Also for the
boss working now at employer 1, he may also report this to employer 1 so that John will not be re-hire by employer 1. Is this all legal?
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Answered in 5 minutes by:
3/8/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
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Thanks for your patience on this. Sadly, I'm not entirely sure John has a lot of options other than challenging whether he actually violated any business code of conduct and ethics to avoid having his sign-on bonuses returned or deducted from his check. Could you tell me if John definitively broke the law? That is going to be the biggest lynch pin in all of this.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Broke law? Dual employment is legal.
The matter is whether it is considered as one of the follows.
dishonesty, breach of trust, unethical business conduct

Let me clarify: you said that if John is fired because of illegal conduct he'd have to pay back the signing bonus. My question is whether he was terminated for illegal conduct at all by Employer 2.

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
There is no written letter of termination. John was orally informed that he was in violation of code of business conduct and ethical (i.e. not reporting second employment).

I see. Ok, so John's best option is going to be to challenge his alleged violation of the law. John has a couple of options, one of them being seeking declaratory relief. Declaratory relief is a procedure whose purpose is to “set controversies at rest before they lead to repudiation of obligations, invasions of rights or commissions of wrongs.” All this really means is that you are asking a court to determine definitively what each party’s rights, duties, and obligations are before there is a violation (e.g. a breach of contract). It’s important to know that there has to be an actual controversy. You can’t base it on hypotheticals. For example, if a party has a non-disclosure agreement, but one of the parties didn’t sign the agreement, a person may ask the court for a judgment as to whether the agreement is null and void on that basis. By getting a judge’s blessing one way or another, the parties will know where they stand. No damages are awarded; however, it helps the parties basically “know the score.”

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If John is confident that he didn't violate the law, then it's a breach of contract.

A breach of contract just simply means that one party was obligated to perform and they have either have not performed or have said that they will not perform. Typically, the aggrieved party is entitled to be returned to the same position they were in before the breach. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for advising of a breach of contract. It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. If this doesn’t work, sadly, the only other option is to either go through an informal mediation or file a lawsuit in your local court. This website is also pretty cool because you can download the forms right after purchasing. Click here to get started. What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
If John goes to court, his court record will become available via background check by future employer. Will any court action carry such risk? In fact, John has landed another job offer thanks for the fact that his skill is in high demand.

It's hard to predict whether any court record about this dispute would matter to a future employer; that really depends on them and if John has already landed a job, then I would only venture that it wouldn't matter much at all.

The court record could be available so I would recommend that John try to handle this privately and informally; however, if John does go through the courts, anyone running a background check will be able to see the basis of his claims and make their own judgments and would probably understand why he even brought a suit for declaratory relief or breach of contract. There's always private mediation and arbitration as well which is not a part of the court records.

Did you have any other questions for me regarding this?

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