Can I be terminated for "gossiping" to co-workers on my off time and on my personal phone? Can I be terminated because they suspect me of authoring a blog which makes fun of employee practices in the workplace? Am I entitled to tape a conversation or bring a witness with me when meeting with administration? Can I be terminated for making a legitimate complaint?
Administrative Law Lawyer
Virginia is an employment-at-will state; this means the employer may terminate any employee at any time, for any reason, or for no reason. As a general rule, therefore, the employee has no right to challenge the termination. There are a few very limited exceptions. For example, an employee may not be discriminated against or terminated because he has filed a safety complaint or exercised his rights under OSHA law. Virginia Code § 40.1-51.2:1. Also, federal law protects employees from discrimination because of age, race, sex, religion, national origin or handicap.
As for the specific circumstances you recited in your question, since management can terminate you for any reason or no reason, all of the circumstances you detailed may underlie their decision, but there is no legal consequence to any of those being the underlying reason. If management chooses to afford a you meeting to discuss the matter, it is up to management whether you can bring a friend or a tape recorder.
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.
Christine is right.
Yes - you can be fired for gossiping, or not. You can be fired for allegedly gossiping. Tape recording is a not a great idea but you can tell them who will support your statement.
This is not legal advice --- hire a Va employment attorney if you want specific advice.