What are an employee’s rights if they are terminated due to the actions of fellow employees?

UPDATED: May 13, 2011

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What are an employee’s rights if they are terminated due to the actions of fellow employees?

My husband was just let go. He had attended a big customer conference in Las Vegas and he was in a small group where one or two of the men said some inappropriate things to a female customer. A complaint was filed. My husband said nothing but was part of the group so apparently that is why he was let go (along with the 2 other men involved). He had been with the company for 9 years (expert technical engineer). What are his rights to make sure his reputation is not compromised? This just happened yesterday so he is in denial/shock etc. He is innocent (but I guess guilty by association) so we are just not sure what to do.

Asked on May 13, 2011 under Employment Labor Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) Unless your husband has an employment agreement to the contrary, is an employee at will, he is an employee at will and may be terminated at any time for any reason. So the termination itself is most likely not improper.

2) If statements are made publically (which includes even to one other person) about your husband, and those statements are false factual statements which would damage his reputation and/or cause others to be less likely to work with him, he may have a cause of action for defamation and be able to sue. Remember: the statements must be false and they must be factual statements--not opinions. If you think this is happening, you should speak with a personal injury attorney.

3) If your husband applies for unemployment compensation and is turned down because he was alleged fired for cause, you can appeal that determination and force the company to establish that he personally did something that would constitute grounds to fire "for cause."

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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