I recently relocated to Orange CIty Iowa to take a job as an Executive Chef at a local multi-outlet restaurant. I gave up fourty thousand dollars a year and health insurance. I was offered fouty five thousand dollars a year, health and life insurance, and an opportunity to expand my culinary interests. I had many conversations over the phone, via SKYPE, and e-mail to insure we were all on the same page, had the same goals and values, it seemed that we did. I relocated my entire family, and things seemed to go well for the first two weeks. I created a new menu for the three restaurants we would be opening, signed a no-compete, and began the hiring process. It soon became clear to me that the owners not only did not want to hire any experienced cooks, but in fact only wanted to hire part-time high school students who could not cook. I attempted to explain that we couldn't run a restaurant with cook who didn't know how to cook. I also explained that you can just teach someone to cook upscale food in just a few weeks. I asked for a sous chef as well as expereniceed cooks on at least six occasions in the two months that I worked there. I was repeatedly informed that the "youth culture" we were promoting worked best with the high school students. I was forced to atteempt to open with 8 cooks who couldn't...and as a result, many mistakes were made. I attempted to sit down with the owner to make clear again that, we needed experienced cooks. I explained that the only applications I had been given by their HR department were high school students even though I had been asking for experience and that it wasn't about hiring young people...but people who can actually cook, no matter how old they are. The owner's husband became rude, and demeaning as he told me I was fired it was all my fault that the high achool students couldn't cook properly, the only thing I really said, because I was in shock was "you can't teach kids to teach in a week and a half", which was the time I was given to hire and train.The owners became very verbally abusive to me, I asked them to stop being verbally abusive, so we could figure out how to resolve this problem as I had given everything up to locate and work here. The owner's husband said are you actually asking for something?" You're not getting thing from me, there's nothing you can do about it." "This is an at-will state"Is there really no recourse for me?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Unfortunately, given the circumstances described, without a written contract or union representation, there is no recourse under Iowa law for being fired from your job (unless it was done because you belong to a protected class of people). You can be fired for any reason or no reason at all and there is no cause of action created.
One issue that you might want an attorney to review is the non-compete that you signed. It may or may not be enforceable, depending upon whether you received consideration for signing it (beyond getting a job) and whether it is limited in duration and geographical effect.
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