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Thread: Nevada - Could this be grounds for wrongful termination? Nevada

  1. #1
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    Default Nevada - Could this be grounds for wrongful termination? Nevada

    I've worked for the same company for 5 years. I started as a receptionist and worked my way up to a salaried account manager. On top of that, I was also the president's "right hand". About a year ago, the owner hired one of her sons to be a production manager. He was failing do his part, which in turn, made my job extremely hard dealing with customers with late parts, etc. I had sent an email to upper management explaining the issues that I was facing and proposed solutions. It was taken well, or so I thought. Soon thereafter I was pulled into HR about my workplace attire and not sending the receptionists notes if I had to leave for appointments. None of us have ever had to send the receptionist notes and I had a company cell phone that all of my customers contacted me on and it had access to my emails as well as a laptop that I regularly worked from home during after hours. On top of this, I was wearing a COMPANY ISSUED shirt when HR claimed my attire was inappropriate. All of the men had nice, collared, button-up shirts with the company logo but they were not made for women, especially a woman with a body type like mine. So mine was a t-shirt issued by the company but they still said it was inappropriate. We came to an agreement that I would wear my own personal business casual shirts and that was the end of the discussion. There was no write-up and nothing was signed. This was the first time I've ever been "talked to" about anything.

    Moving on, I was feeling uncomfortable around the production manager because he had attempted to cause many personal issues between myself and other employees which were quickly defused due to my coworkers knowing me better than what he was claiming. I went to HR with it. I have no idea what HR did about it, there was no follow-up. I asked the girl who runs the monthly pot lucks to please remove me from the email strings as I would not like to attend them and HR had another sit down with me. I asked why I was being talked to as there's others who don't attend the pot lucks and I didn't think attendance to pot lucks was required. He told me that it's not but asked why I feel that way and I circled back to feeling uncomfortable about the issues the production manager has been causing.

    Fast forward two weeks and I am taken in and terminated today. I understand that Nevada is an at-will state but I really feel as if I was harassed out of my workplace. My boss, the president, doesn't even understand what happened. When I asked HR why, he shrugged his shoulders and said Nevada is right-to-work, they don't need a reason. Is there anything that I can do?? 4.9 years there and not a single problem, and everything came crashing down within 2 months.
    Last edited by nkrz; 02-26-2016 at 03:07 PM.

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    A wrongful termination means there is a specific law that would otherwise have prohibited your termination. What law do you believe the employer violated when you were terminated?
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cbg View Post
    A wrongful termination means there is a specific law that would otherwise have prohibited your termination. What law do you believe the employer violated when you were terminated?
    I'm not a lawyer, I don't know the laws inside and out, which is why I'm here. But wouldn't such treatment constitute harassment and discrimination (why did all of my male coworkers get appropriate office attire while I was told to use my own) and when I defended myself, that eventually firing me be considered retaliation? Or would it not fall under retaliation because they refused to give me a reason for termination?

    I also forgot to mention that when I was initially talked to that they strictly specified that is was only a discussion and should anymore violations occur that it would be a formal write-up on file per company policy. Can they go against their own policy?

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    My ex-boss also thinks this was a tactic to get back at him for an argument he had with the owner earlier in the week about the production manager. He was explaining to her how our efficiency was failing and she turned it into a personal argument about me.

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    It is not illegal to take the side of a bad employee who happens to be the son of the owner. Nepotism is not illegal. Not being able to get along with someone the owner brought in is a valid reason to terminate you. Especially if it was causing dissention among other employees. Making a bad business decision to keep a bad related employee over a good one happens all the time.

    Wearing a t-shirt (even a company logo one) when everyone else is wearing business casual is enough to discipline especially if the t-shirt was meant for something like casual days and the day you wore it was not a casual day/time or if it didn't fit well and wasn't appropriate even with a corporate logo. Are you the only female in the whole company? What did the other females wear? Did any of the men choose to wear the t-shirt over the button-up assuming they also got t-shirts? Could you have bought a woman's buttonup and had the logo put on it and worn that? I think the issue here is the professionalism of a t-shirt.....

    Refusing to participate in employee/company potlucks and making it blatantly obvious by emailing someone in writing to take you off the list instead of just not showing up and not participating adds to the dissention.

    While the production manager was causing problems, it probably wasn't the best move to be the one pointing them out, especially since he was related to the owner. Probably better to bring them verbally to your direct boss rather than sending them to "upper management" again in writing.

    it takes a lot of finesse and experience to deal with the son of an owner who gets hired but does a bad job. I think you just got caught in a bad spot and multiple things built up and the easiest choice was to terminate you rather than the son or even your boss. But you gained some great experience if they took you from a receptionist to an account manager. And if the son is messing up as badly as you say, the owner in the end will be the one that really loses (and your job would be gone anyway)

    With all that said, honestly I don't really see any cause for a claim of wrongful termination or even illegal discrimination. (And the HR guy should have said your job is "at will").

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    Quote Originally Posted by hr for me View Post
    Wearing a t-shirt (even a company logo one) when everyone else is wearing business casual is enough to discipline especially if the t-shirt was meant for something like casual days and the day you wore it was not a casual day/time or if it didn't fit well and wasn't appropriate even with a corporate logo. Are you the only female in the whole company? What did the other females wear? Did any of the men choose to wear the t-shirt over the button-up assuming they also got t-shirts? Could you have bought a woman's buttonup and had the logo put on it and worn that? I think the issue here is the professionalism of a t-shirt.....
    The t-shirt was given to me by the company because I explained the button-up t-shirts do not fit me the way they should. Either the buttons in my chest area would be popping open or I would be wearing a shirt that was so big, it would look like pajamas. There were only a couple other women in the company and they did not have the same issues because of how they were built. Other men in the company wore the t-shirts with no issue and no repercussions. Nobody wants to wear their own shirts because in the type of company it is, going down on the production floor would most definitely result in stains, rips, burns, or other mishaps to clothing which is why company shirts were purchased and distributed in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by hr for me View Post
    Refusing to participate in employee/company potlucks and making it blatantly obvious by emailing someone in writing to take you off the list instead of just not showing up and not participating adds to the dissention.
    But it would also a flood of useless banter between 10 employees for upwards of 2 weeks as well. I could get anywhere from 150-350 emails a day from customers, adding a lot of unnecessary banter into the mix for something I was not going to attend is not something I want to sift through. We had 2 other girls that asked to be taken off as well, but it was because they were Jehovah's Witnesses and don't take part in events like that. Their emails were the same as mine, just a "Please remove me from the pot luck email list". I just really don't understand how asking to be removed from a useless activity is grounds for HR to talk to anybody.

    Quote Originally Posted by hr for me View Post
    While the production manager was causing problems, it probably wasn't the best move to be the one pointing them out, especially since he was related to the owner. Probably better to bring them verbally to your direct boss rather than sending them to "upper management" again in writing.
    The owner was the one who asked me to write it and told me what to include because she saw our production taking a dump. It blew up in my face obviously. Lesson learned, I guess.

    I guess I just feel extremely angry and mistreated. The owner is a very old lady (late 80s) and I don't think she's all there anymore. Our company was amazing before the addition of this guy and a lot of good people had quit, a lot more are looking for work, and some unfortunate saps like me got this awful knee-jerk reaction from someone who just isn't getting it. I went above and beyond. I was one of two people in the company with the job title and while I had to work from home at nights, attend conference calls for overseas customers at midnight my time, and did tasks far beyond my scope employment while my coworker skated by not having to do anything else after hours and wearing the same t-shirt I was reprimanded for. I feel it was very unjustified, but I get it. It's not illegal to be a crazy b* I guess.

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    Maybe not the right thread but does that mean they can tell unemployment a reason, even though they told me there was no reason?

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    No law requires that an employer provide a reason for your termination. There was a reason; they just didn't tell you at the time of termination. So, yes, they are free to tell the unemployment commission what the reason is. If it precludes your getting unemployment you have the right to appeal.
    I am not able to respond to private messages. Thanks!

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    1) I don't see a wrongful termination here.
    2) File for unemployment ins. (the state will decide if you qualify) & look for other employment.

    Good luck.
    Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

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    FYI, multiple courts have ruled that differing dress codes for men and women does not constitute unlawful termination. The fact that the company gave you the t-shirt does not automatically make it acceptable for work related situations.
    The above answer, whatever it is, assumes that no legally binding and enforceable contract or CBA says otherwise. If it does, then the terms of the contract or CBA apply.

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    Other men in the company wore the t-shirts with no issue and no repercussions.
    Did they work in a substantially similar role to yours? It's not discrimination to expect an office worker to dress up more than a production floor employee, even if that office worker has to occasionally go on the production floor. I've had more than one nice pair of pants ruined by working in the warehouse. In any case, the T-shirt alone is a fairly minor complaint that's not going to get you very far.

    It does sound like you were retaliated against by the owner's son. That's unfair, and I'm sorry, but the law can't/doesn't address every instance of unfair treatment or bad management. Unless you can prove you were fired because of your gender (the T-shirt alone isn't going to get you there) you don't have a case.

    But you should apply for unemployment. Your employer can and probably will give reasons why the termination was valid and you shouldn't receive it, but you can appeal. None of us can predict based on only hearing your side of the story if you will succeed in getting it or not, but you should certainly try.

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    I get not being able to wear mens' wear style button down shirts. I face the same, BUT, I also have learned over the years how to adapt a larger shirt, or where to find a good tailor. In fact, I have done that as my current employer has the same oxford style shirts for certain events. One of my coworkers bought a shirt that matched in a size that worked and had our logo stitched on. Wearing a t-shirt everyday when that is not the accepted or understood dress code is an issue. Managers set the tone for other employees. Even if your only choice was to wear a t-shirt, there are ways to do so which still look professional. Going to your employer to solve the problem for you does not put confidence in your ability to manage.

    Employees seeking religious accommodation are not even in the same ballpark as your request. Delete the emails. Send them to your junk folder. In other words, solve it yourself. And yes, I would be taken back by a manager who not only skipped the pot-lucks, but was so obvious about not wanting anything to do with them.

    As for the lost of problems, I have no idea what you said or how you said it but perhaps it was not stated as objectively, or as professionally as it could have been.

    Letting the receptionist, or someone else, know when you step out is common professional courtesy. Asking you to do this is not onerous, nor unusual. It is sounding like there was an issue due to the lack of notice or no one would have even known you had done it.

    In any event, nothing at all you mentioned is in any way illegal. While each individual gripe may seem a small thing to you and taken on their own may not appear termination worthy, when lumped together it all adds up. Further, the way you handled issues does send up some red flags. Not being able to problem solve very simple situations, avoiding the owner's son and going to HR rather than working it out with him directly, etc. would not send the message to your employer that you are manager material, no matter how good you might be at certain aspects of the job.
    I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.

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