Can I press charges against my employer for wrongful termination?

Asked over 1 year ago - Lynn, MA

On 7/30/13 I reported to my owners of major insubordination and sexual relations between a fellow coworker and the Store Manager at my store. I have been with the company for exactly 3yrs and 1 month and the 2 I reported both have been there since May of this year. The store manager and myself never got along pretty much because he takes favorites and obviously has a sexual relationship with one the other supervisors in which I was friends with before their status in the work environment had changed. To make a long story short on 7/30 I contacted my owners to report them of what was going within their store when they are not around they contacted me back on 7/31 to thank me for the heads up etc. At this time there was a meeting scheduled for 7/31 at 5pm in which I told all my superiors in advance that would not be attending because of financial issues and I dont drive, they all gave me their approval that is was more that okay if I couldn't make it. Around 6:45pm that evening I went in to grab my tips so I had some means to get back and forth to work for my following shifts in which my store manager was making inappropriate comments to me as I was still present he left on his phone out the back door. I left as well right after I got my tips out the front door.(Keep in mind the stores security cameras were recording the whole time) On 8/1/13 I showed up for my shift and before I got to the store one of my coworkers told me the meeting that was on 7/31 was cancelled so I am told my store manager that he wants to talk and we step out back with the general manager and they start to inform me that because I show up to get my tips at 6:45 on my day off that they decide to let me go. They hand me a termination paper with reasons as to why I am being let go and it was documented on 7/31 and the reasons were physical assault, dishonesty, and failure to report to work and the person who issued the termination was the person I reported. Basically I want to know if there is any legal action I can take since nothing documented was at all work related or true, my general manager also assured me that it wasn't work related and is looking into the camera as we speak, However I am a little skeptical about going back there once they terminate the parties involved since all this happened in the first place and I feel it was a setup because I brought their relationship to the owners. Please let me know what legal action I can do if any all. Thanks! Sincerely- Feeling Discriminated Against
13 minutes ago - 4 days left to answer.
Additional Details
Every reason that was on termination paper was documented because on what took place on 7/31 when I arrived to get my tips. Since the cameras were recorded wouldn't my case be proven as a setup once I had a lawyer and they got access to the videos as well as I have phone records which can prove I spoke to all my superiors early in the day plus if it was to go to court its unlawful to lie under oath.

Additional information

I also want to bring to attention that the meeting wasn't mandatory, and it usually only lasts an hour, as we had one coming up on 8/5/2013 with the District Manager because of all the complaints that we received on shifts in which the two people I reported were and still are scheduled. All the employees at work know of whats going on yet everyone is afraid to speak ill of what goes on because they are fearful of losing their job...in which obviously I am walking proof that it will happen. If I can press charges I would really hope that my lawyer can have the whole staff testify about the relationship as it is against policy and I believe Massachusetts law to have sexual relations with a superior that can hire & fire. As well as the security cameras can prove of inappropriate touching in the workplace during hours of operations.

Attorney answers (2)

  1. Jefferson W. Boone

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    1

    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . It's a little confusing between store manager, supervisor, general manager, etc. If I understand correctly, the person you complained about fired you, rather than the person you complained to.

    If that is the case, and the person you complained TO has the ability to straighten this out, fire the guilty and reinstate you, the innocent, they should do so, ASAP.

    If I got it wrong, or if the person you complained TO is unable or unwilling to take appropriate action, you can act, as follows:

    1) Apply for unemployment insurance tomorrow. It is retroactive only to the date you apply. If you are denied, appeal. You may need a lawyer to appeal.

    2) Although MA is an "at will" state (you can quit whenever you want, and they can let you go when ever they want, for any legal reason or no reason at all) they seem to have fired you for improper reasons including whistle-blowing and reporting of sexual harassment (you are being treated unfairly because you did NOT engage in sex with the Store Manager). Accordingly, you may have a discrimination claim at MCAD and/or EEOC as well as a wrongful termination claim. These claims may carry punitive damages and attorney fees, as well as back pay, emotional distress damages, etc. You should consult a lawyer experienced in these areas (not my strong suit) as soon as possible. Most will consult at no charge. Use this site's Find-A-Lawyer, "Employment Law".

    The foregoing answer does not establish an attorney client relationship, is not confidential, and should not be... more
  2. Pamela Anne Smith

    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . It is illegal to retaliate against an employee who reports sexual harassment. It is difficult to follow all the "players" in the fact pattern you describe. I am not sure what you are talking about with videos and cameras.

    To make a claim for illegal retaliation, the employee has to show: (1) she filed a complaint; (2) the person who retaliated against her knew about this complaint; (2) the employee then was subject to an adverse employment action like a suspension, termination, transfer, a bad performance review, or a job warning; (3) a causal connection exists between 1 and 2.

    The employee can show a causal connection by direct evidence: Drop this sexual harassment complaint or I will fire you. If there is no direct evidence, circumstantial evidence is admissible. For example, if there is a close period of time between the employee’s complaint and the negative job action, this can be proof of discrimination under a theory known as “close temporal proximity.” I know, that sounds like a Star Trek term. But, it’s much simpler than that. It just means that retaliation can be inferred from the close time between the complaint and the adverse action.

    This information should not be construed to be formal legal advice nor the formation of a lawyer/client relationship.

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