My aunt has been my office manager for 12 yrs. In the past year I have become more "involved" in my company and this does not please her. She is argumentative on a daily basis, disrespectful, unorganized and constantly tardy. I have repeatedly verbally warned her as to her insubordination and any further outbursts would result in (1) day on the street without pay. She received her day w/out pay and has since taken off due to a "nervous break down" due to stress at work. Which she created I might add. How can I get rid of this situation with no legal ramifications? Can I terminate her while she is off supposedly under a doctors care?
Before I respond to your inquiry, I must state that we have not spoken, I have not reviewed the relevant documents and facts, and I do not represent you. Therefore, my discussion below is not a legal opinion, but is informational only. Finally, my discussion applies only to issues to which Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Federal law apply, unless otherwise specified.
That being said, unless your aunt had a contract, you can terminate her at will, for any reason or no reason. If she has engaged in willful misconduct, you can terminate her and she won't be able to collect unemployment. However, if you have 4 or more employees, and you terminate her due to her medical condition, she may have a claim for a violation of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. If you have 50 or more employees, and she worked 1250 hours in the past year, and she asked for FMLA leave, and you terminate her, you may have liability as well. However, the facts you relate indicate the basis for the ability to terminate her for cause, which should be a defense against any claims. As these are highly fact-specific issues, I couldn't comment more without a better understanding of the matter.
If you would like to discuss this matter further, please feel free to contact me at the below address(es) or telephone number.
/Christopher E. Ezold/
The Ezold Law Firm, P.C.
One Belmont Avenue,
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
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