My employer for the past 27 years was recently sold. I was demoted from a management position and my salary reduced 35%. After the press release another company contacted me and I was talking to them about possible future employment. They asked if other employees would be interested in talking to them as well. In my previous management role prior to the sale I had hired most all of the employees 10+ years ago. These employees approached me on multiple occasions and expressed their frustrations, concerns, etc, resulting from the sale. I attempted to discuss their concerns with my boss, the president, but his response was "I'm tired of talking about things I have no control over" and/or that he wanted to pick up his belongings, walk out and tell the employees they could deal with it and/or how lucky they were to have a job. 3 employees resigned almost immediately. Ultimately, I simply asked 5 employees - all on separate occasions and when they were expressing their frustrations, etc - if they had any interests in talking to another company. I did not divulge the company name and I deliberately did not encourage them one way or the other. It would have served no purpose for me to encourage them to leave because I had not made a decision about my own future and I certainly had not been made an offer (and still haven't been) by the other company. I was only responding and attempting to address their concerns. Employee A said "yes" she would like to speak with them. However, I never passed her response on to any other company. Employee B is a personal friend of mine and repeatedly expressed her unhappiness about the sale of the company. She shared with me that she had received 2 job offers that she would be pursuing them in February. She said 1 offer was for $25K more than her current salary. Away from the office and not on company time I asked if she was interested in talking to another company and she expressed great interests. After subsequent conversations I told her the name of the company and set up an interview for the 2 of us - never on company time. Employee B said Employee A had confided in her and she thought Employee A might be interested in interviewing with this company too. I did not ask Employee B nor did I encourage her to approach Employee A but cautioned her that she should not disclose the name of the company to anyone. The next day at work Employee B approached Employee A and asked if Employee A would be interested in interviewing with the company. For some unknown reason Employee B shared the name of the company with Employee A. I was not a party to Employee B's conversations with Employee A but apparently Employee A said she was interested, went back to Employee B and retracted her statement, ultimately told her boss who told mine, etc. and I was fired for "soliciting" our employees. Nothing happened to Employee B and she is still gainfully employed at the company where I worked for 27 years. As stated above I have not been offered a job with the other company but continue discussions regarding future employment However, the company received a letter today from my previous employer's legal counsel threatening they are to "never" contact another employee and that my previous employer is watching them. They were aware of why I was terminated and obviously, the other company will have their legal counsel handle their end of it. However, I am concerned that it could adversely impact my potential future employment with this company and I don't want to be seen as a high maintenance employee due to baggage from my previous employer before I am even offered a job. Is there any basis that I can protect myself from being damaged by my previous employer? Also, can my previous employer fire me for "soliciting" employees but not take any action against Employee B based on the events described that lead to my termination? Thank you.
If you are an at-will employee, you can be fired for any reason or no reason, except unlawful discrimination.
If you do not have an employment contract or union to represent you, your recourse is limited. You have too much going on to get this solved by anyone online.
You might find my Legal Guide helpful "Workplace Discrimination: A Basis for Wrongful Termination Claims"
You might find my Legal Guide helpful "How to Choose A Lawyer For You"
You might find my Legal Guide helpful " What Do I Tell My Lawyer"
If you have a discrimination theory about hostile workplace conditions you'll need a lawyer. Check with a lawyer in your locale to discuss more of the details.
Good luck to you.
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