Legal Question in Employment Law in California

I was terminated after HR conducted an investigation and concluded that I harassed my supervisor.I gave my supervisor a card expressing my appreciation for her part in giving me a birthday party.In the card I wrote ...that she helped make my birthday great and that I love you for that.I told HR that I had given my supervisor compliments such as 'you look nice today" "you look very pretty' in the past and she never acted offended or told me she didn't appreciate the compliments or to stop.They said the card was evidence that I harassed her.I am filing a complaint with the California DFEH and want to know if I should tell them of previous compliments or just stick with the evidence that HR found?HR doesn't even have the card I gave her.

Asked on 8/05/11, 2:18 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

In general, employees are 'at will' and can be disciplined or fired any time for any reason, with or without ‘cause’, explanation or notice. The company didn't need, but had, and explained, 'cause' for your firing, the harassment complaint against you. The company is obligated by law to investigate and take action on such complaints. They did.

You were fired for harassment when someone complained about the conduct you 'admitted' to in this post. Whether you understood it was harassing or not, the victim reasonably believed it was. That is what matters under the law.

Your understanding of the situation is entirely backward: you haven't described ANY basis for a complaint against your 'victim' or the company, whereas the 'victim' could potentially sue both the company and you. That is one of the real reasons you were fired - to show their legally reasonable response to a complaint of harassment.

On the facts stated, you should walk quietly and quickly away from this situation, drop any claims, seek new employment [which may be difficult with a harassment based 'for cause' firing on your record], and read up on what is considered 'unwanted attention' and 'harassment' in the workplace so as to avoid future problems.

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Answered on 8/05/11, 3:45 pm

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