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Can I be wrongfully terminated by the other co-CEO if I have a written contract for employment with the other co-CEO?

Mamaroneck, NY |

I have a written contract by my boss the co-CEO but the other is threatening to terminate me today b/c I am not following company rules. I was advised not to follow them by my boss because I am under contract with her. The contract has an end date with hours and salary stated. Do I sue the company for wrongful termination?

Attorney Answers 6


  1. If you have an agreement then your employer must honor it.

    Ryan Finn * 518.213.0115 * Rfinn@hackermurphy.com * Referrals are the highest form of compliment * Hacker Murphy serves clients throughout New York State and always pays referring attorneys a reasonable referral fee in contingency cases


  2. On its face, you have a breach of contract and wrongful termination action. However, there may be a caveat, such as an out in your contract or their claim you are breaching the terms of the agreement by not complying with company policy.

    This is the danger one faces when caught between two warring supervisors. You are in a Scylla and Charybdis situation where you listen to one boss in contravention to the wishes of the other, and then rely on the first to throw his weight behind you if the second takes action.


  3. When you say you are "under contract with her" I assume you mean that the company has signed a contract with you, but it was signed by the co-CEO who you refer to as your boss.

    Does the contract say anything about which of the co-CEOs can give you direction and can fire you? If the contract is clear that a particular CEO is the one who has the ultimate decision making power, I would listen to that one.

    Also, when you say that your boss has told you not to follow the company policy, has she/he done that in writing? Email counts as something in writing for this purpose. If one of them is giving you oral instructions (just spoken, not written) and the other is giving you direction in writing, you run the risk that the one who is giving oral instructions will change their story. If the one that is telling you not to follow policy won't put that in an email you take a big risk by following their direction.

    Finally, has the threat to terminate you been put in writing or sent by email? If so, can you forward that to your boss and have them give you written instructions to proceed on a particular course? If you do that, you are in the best position.

    As a reminder, I am not your lawyer and these comments are based only on the short facts you have provided. Therefore, they are not legal advice.


  4. The existence of your employment contract in and of itself does not mean your termination would be considered "wrongful". Usually employment contracts provide for "terminations for cause" when issues such as failure to abide by company policy and insubordination are raised. You need to consult with an employment lawyer in the event your employment is terminated.


  5. You are in a difficult situation, so it’s crucial that you have the contract reviewed by an experienced employment lawyer, ASAP. Some contracts still have language that the employee is an employee at will, which may provide grounds for the other CEO to terminate you.
    You say that you are under contract with your boss. Does the contract explicitly state that you answer only to her? If so, it’s possible that the other CEO cannot fire you.'

    Even if you are not fired, your situation is not a healthy one in which to work productively.
    An experienced employment lawyer may be able to negotiate your graceful exit, without the CEOs suing you for breach of contract.

    -Denise K. Bonnaig
    212-374-1511