Legal Question in Employment Law in California

Roughly two weeks ago, I requested a private meeting with my manager, stating that I am Considering resigning due to stress, a hostile environment and lack of pay increases. I was looking for a dialogue and hoped that I could be talked out of it. We verbally agreed to give this some time.

Shortly afterwards the was a Covid outbreak. While I took time of for the same symptoms as those who tested positive, I tested negative. During this time I was harassed via private text messaging with accusations of lying and being ordered by this fellow employee (not a manager) to come in. I stood my ground and he got angrier.

I intended to report this incident, but instead, upon my return I was fired without reason given.

Have I any recourse? I previously reported a hostile environment that was barely addressed at all and the same person is the one who was harassing me while home on Covid stay.

All attempts to bring this incident up fell on deaf ears as their minds were made up and no reason for termination was provided.

bTw, I am in California, the ‘at will’ state.

I simply want to be able to at least get UI benefits until I find greener pastures.

Asked on 2/01/22, 2:14 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

The first thing to do is apply for UI benefits and see if they even claim it was a "for cause" termination. It takes more than a "reason" for termination for it to be "for cause." It's not absolutely clear, but it doesn't look like they'd win a "for cause" case. Their only shot would be your failure to return to work after the negative test, which they probably would not win if you were still sick with something else. So they might just let it go and let you get the UI.

You also need to realize that "hostile work environment" and "harassment" just in general is not anything an employer is obligated to do anything about. Unless the harassment is sexual, racial, religious, etc., harassment, it is up to the employer if they want to do anything about it or not. Hostile work environment is just a variation on harassment. The same rules apply.

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Answered on 2/02/22, 9:49 am

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