I was fired/let go from my unpaid internship after someone in the organization Googled my name and saw I had been arrested recently. I have not been convicted of any crime. Can they even do this?
When an employee is being terminated from your company regardless of how long they have been there, there may be a situation where you may want to provide them with some sort of severance pay going forward. Typically, you are not obligated to do that unless there is a contractual provision that requires it or unless you are treating that employee differently than you have treated other employees in the past and that treatment could result in some way shape or form in some kind of lawsuit or claim in an agency against you. This might typically arise in a situation where an employee suddenly is not being offered a severance package and the employee is going to claim that it’s based on. For example, his or her gender or his or her race or national origin or one of the protected categories in the law. Overall generally speaking you don’t have an obligation to give severance pay or a severance agreement to an employee who has been terminated but when you contact an attorney and discuss with them the circumstances of that employees termination and that employees employment history and whether there has been any kind of personal file notations about the employees actions over the course of their employment. For example, that could have led up to termination, you might want to seek that advice prior to engaging in the act of termination because severance agreements can help you move forward in a way that you know that you are certain that employee is not going to come back to you and sue the company for some type of illegal action. There are different statute limitations that apply to the employment claims and sometimes employees can have as much as six years, for example, if there is a breach of contract claim to sue the employer. One of the advantages of giving a severance pay or severance package to an employee who is being terminated is that you know once that employee signs that agreement that employee is not going to be able to sue you down the road and you are freeing up the risk of going forward in a situation where you might be incurring legal cost and defending a claim or you might be facing damages in a perspective of unlawful termination claim.
Often time’s employees will engage in behaviors that employers feel needs to result in immediate termination. These are typically agreed to acts which have subjected other co workers or employees to dangerous situations. It could include some kind of fraud, it could include some kind of misconduct that damaged the relationship with a long standing client and therefore hurt the company’s bottom line in terms of future income. An employer can terminate an employee without giving them notice, without giving them any reason even for the termination and it doesn't have to be that the employee acted in this way before. There are often times situations where an employer will want to engage in progressive discipline where, for example you will want to correct the behavior by giving a verbal warning and then a written warning and then ultimately the act of termination but a lot of times it doesn't have to go in that pattern and a lot of times the specific act of the employee doesn't actually fit into that pattern because actually the employer needs to sever the relationship immediately as a result of that employees conduct. A lot of things need to be looked at, however, on the opposite end as to whether the employee has any rights to the position or whether that employee has any rights to notice or whether that employee has any rights to charges of misconduct or incompetence. Depending on the employer and depending on whether the employee and employer have any kind of contractual relationship, whether there is a union involved, whether there is civil service status, all those things need to be looked at to determine what the employer has to do in order to not violate the law in taking the action of immediate termination.
From the employers perspective, if you have an employee who is not carrying out their job duties and responsibilities in an effective and efficient manner or perhaps they are actually doing something that’s damaging the good name or reputation of the company or the business or in a way damaging the client relationship that the employer or the company has with certain vendors or clients, you need to take action.
We often get calls from individuals in Westchester county who have been terminated and they feel that the termination has been wrongful and they use that phrase often wrongful termination and I believe I have been terminated for wrong reasons or whatever reasons they use, the concept is that they disagree with whatever reasons they were terminated. The concept of wrongful termination is an entity of itself an actionable claim however there are certain statutes that can come into play that will make a termination or turn a termination into unlawful termination. If the termination is unlawful meaning that it violated the provisions of the law there are steps that you can take to provide the remedy or seek a remedy for the wrong that has been done to you and that remedy can include loss pay, loss benefits, damages for pain and suffering, emotional pain and suffering, metal anguish, stress, anxiety, damage to your reputation, it’s pretty global what you can collect in terms of damages in the event of unlawful termination. What we need to do when you contact us is determine whether the circumstances of your termination, warrant the filing of a claim or the filing of a lawsuit and that claim could be in an agency or a court or both and we need to determine what damages you have suffered going forward so that we can be able to give you a very good perspective as to what it is you are expected to recover if you are successful in that case. If you come to us and we find that your termination was not in violation of law but yet you disagree with it. Often times things can be done even after the fact to contact the employer and try to help you going forward maybe in the form of obtaining a reference letter maybe, maybe in the form of agreeing with the employer that they are not going to disparage you, maybe in the form of some discussion about a future prospective employer or even unemployment benefits. It may be in the form of continuing health insurance or health care benefits and those are all things that we would look at when you come to see us with your specific circumstances. Every case is fact specific, we can’t give a general rule of advice or a general guideline because every case turns on the specific facts of the situation and that’s what we do, we analyze every case specifically, we look at the particulars of every case and most importantly we want to hear from you as to what it is that you are specifically seeking at this point. Everybody comes to the door with different needs, different wants and different desires. Some people are interested in litigating and some people are not and that’s what we need to listen to and hear what you have to say and then give you our best opinion going forward as to how you can hopefully attain your goal.