Can I be suspended/terminated for refusing to write a witness statement on a matter that I’m uncomfortable with?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Can I be suspended/terminated for refusing to write a witness statement on a matter that I’m uncomfortable with?

My spouse and myself work together and we had a dispute outside of work. I asked my manager to retrieve some items from my spouse since he was going to go home instead of working his shift. Now, I am being asked to write a witness statement regarding the incident that transpired at home, since I refused to write it or attend a meeting on my day off for the issue which I told them I feel uncomfortable with and which I’d rather forget it and move on. I was sent home and suspended for not writing the statement.

Asked on August 2, 2018 under Employment Labor Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

While unusual to have to write such a statement, it is not illegal to be asked to do so unless it violates the terms of an employment contract or union agreement. The fact is that most work relationships are "at will". this means that a company can set the conditions of employment much as it sees fit, at least absent some form of legally actionable discrimination. Accordingly, you can be terminated for refusing to write the statement or for any reason or for no reason at all. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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