Legal Question in Employment Law in Pennsylvania
Worked 12 years for an employer. Always have had good views, have received spot bonuses, regular yearly bonus, have always gotten merit raises, NEVER been given a warning either verbal or written, I have never been warned about abusing a company policy.
On July 10th I was called into a conference with HR and told that a person (ex friend) had written to the two (2) owners (heads) of the company and HR (he got their emails from the company site). He gave them personal information and told them I was “tracking” him using the company time and equipment. I had indeed emailed him from the company. I told HR this, and they informed me that they see I was only responding to his emails. They gave me a copy of his email and I explained to them, I had a 4 year relationship with him and he was a little crazy. HR told me they where only informing me because he had written and that was the end of it.
I went to Colorado on vacation for 9 days. Left on 8/2/13 returned 8/12/13.
On the 8/22/13 I was called in again by HR and was told he had written 2 addition emails to addition people in the company besides HR and the owners of the company. This time I was given a written warning, in which I was told this (me) was a “disruptive force” and that I was speaking at length about the situation on the production floor, and wasting company time. None of which are true. I was only in the office 16 days before my trip in which case I was getting ready for that and had no time to worry about this person emailing things about me.
I was told this man told them I emailed him using the email address he had used to originally email HR. This is not true, yet I am the one given the Written warning. I was also told in the written warning That if He emails again it will be grounds for my immediate dismissal.
I have done nothing, I have not done what he has accused me of or what they are believing he has said. I don’t even know where this man is. My HR suggested I file a restraing order. He’s not doing anything directly to me, plus I don’t have the money or engery to do that.
Is this right? Can my employer do this?
1 Answer from Attorneys
If you are not the member of a union and you do not have a written contract of employment, you are an employee at will that can be fired or disciplined for good reason, bad reason or no reason at all. The reason cannot violate other laws preventing discrimination in the workforce. Such discrimination must be bnase3d on your membership in a protected class, such as sex, age, religion, race, ethnicity, disability, etc.
You have not provided any information that indicates you are being discriminated against for an unlawful reason. While it is, indeed, unfair that your former friend is causing you this trouble, your employer is not required by law to put up with his crazy.
His conduct, alone, is sufficient reason for your employer to fire you. The accuracy of the other reasons you were written up does not change that situation.
Unfortunately, the burden falls on you to do what is necessary to prevent your former friend from causing further trouble. The burden is certainly not with your employer to do something about it or to put up with it.
I am not sure that a restraining order is indicated without knowing what he said in the emails. His conduct seems to be intended to interfere with your employment relationship. That makes his conduct "tortious" and you could sue him for "intentional interference with contractual advantage." Perhaps a letter from a lawyer will change his behavior. Alternatively, you can do nothing and lose your job.