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Can HR or your boss fire you or put you on probation over an anonymous call complaining about you?

Roswell, GA |

Anonymous caller calls your company 1800# to file a complaint on you saying that you talked to them in a degrading way. The anonymous caller said that you told them they were dumb, didn't have any friends and they would be fired in 6 months. HR says they have given your bosses a heads up and sends you back to your desk with a stern warning not to say anything to anybody about this. HR said they have to do an investigation and will get back with you. First of all, I would never talk to anyone like this and its not my personality to even joke around like this. Only my ex-husband would be so evil to do something like this to me.

Attorney Answers 2

Posted

Your best course is to cooperate fully in the investigation and to make sure that your employer knows that you have a difficult and irresponsible former spouse who may be behind this.

In Georgia, most employment is considered "at will" which means that either the employer or the employee may terminate the relationship at any time, for any reason. There are exceptions such as where there is an employment contract, where the employee is represented by a union with a collective bargaining agreement in place, or where the employer's action is based on illegal discrimination, that is, a prohibited basis such as race, gender, religion, etc. There are a few other exceptions as well: an employer is also prohibited from terminating at-will employees as a method of retaliation if the worker has sought an investigation into prohibited discrimination or has filed a legal claim for discrimination against the employer. Furthermore, employers are prohibited from firing employees who take leave for family or medical purposes pursuant to FMLA. Lastly, employers cannot fire employees who are simply exercising a legal right, performing an obligation under law, or refusing to do an illegal act.

Your post does not raise any facts suggesting that any of the exceptions to the at will doctrine might apply to your situation.

In an at will state, the employer is not under a legal duty to state a reason for termination and, if a reason is given, it does not have to be the true reason. In fact, in an at will state,the employer does not have to investigate and determine the truth of any concerns or doubts about the employee. However, in your case it seems that your management is handling the situation with due regard for fairness and allowing you to offer your position in the matter.

My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as legal advice. I give legal advice only in the course of an attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by individual consultation and execution of a written agreement for legal services.

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2 comments

Asker

Posted

So what you are telling me. I am just screwed because Georgia is an at will state. Regardless, of me having excellent reviews they can fire me on something this crazy. If this is true, then why on earth do the Georgia Lawyers allow this to happen to employees of Georgia?If I was a lawyer I would fight for this law to be changed!

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

The "at will" doctrine often leads to harsh and destructive results. It is the law because employers insist upon it with state legislatures on the grounds that it is "fair" because it is a 2-way street, meaning that the employee, too, can terminate the employment relationship for any reason, and is not obligated to state a true reason. Of course, this "parity" is illusory. It is a rare situation where the employer is as vulnerable to the loss of an employee as the employee is for loss of employment. The alternative to at will employment is a system requiring good cause for negative employment actions. If you favor that, write your state representative. The legislature controls this issue, not the courts and not attorneys.

Posted

I agree with the previous response that you should allow HR to conduct an investigation into the situation. You may want to share with them that you have an ex-husband that is vindictive and likely to do something like this.

Any response to general questions is intended for general purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. Further, responding to a general question does not estalish an attorney-client relationship.

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