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Can I sue for nepotism or wrongful termination?

Atlanta, GA |

I work in a company of less than 50 people. I was hired as a full time employee in a management role. At the same time, the company hired a new Controller and soon after, her husband as a full time contractor. 3 months later, the contractor's direct boss asked for someone new to be assigned. The CEO forced me to switch with the husband. I asked and was told that I had done nothing wrong and would retain my pay, status and title. Soon after, the husband was given the title of Director. Now the project is in jeopardy and I am up for termination instead of him. I have been here for a bout a year. Also, I have worked with them for an additional 2 years on and off as they keep letting me go and bringing me back as the market flexes.

I should add that the 3 of us make up all the administrative people in this company, all others are salespeople. The Controller is also the head of HR. The husband and I essentially do the same job.

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Attorney answers 2


I see no grounds for a lawsuit. First, there is no cause of action for nepotism, and there is nothing unlawful in the private sector about hiring relatives and spouses. Second, wrongful discharge is a cause of action that is available only in limited circumstances, such as, for example, where the employee is fired for whistleblowing.

Good luck to you.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.


I concur in Mr.Haber's analysis. From the facts that you have given it seems that you work for a company that has been up and down in the marketplace and all of the events that you describe are a result of the company's efforts to manage itself rather than decisions about you or your performance. Except on issues of prohibited discrimination not raised by anything in your recounting of the facts, the law does not tie employer's hands in the effort to successfully compete in the marketplace, and employees have no immunity from the kinds of changes that are driven by legitimate business needs.

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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