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

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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

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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."


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