Can an at-will employee be wrongfully terminated?

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Can an at-will employee be wrongfully terminated?

I worked 15 years at the country I ordered all food, was in charge of most cleaning and was head chef. The country club has a board, and for most of these 15 years, the president did not like me. Also, then there was a head of house and when she started 8 years ago, she was my boss and manager and she did all hiring and firing. On one of her first days there, she went to the president and let him know that he was not to say any more to me about anything, that if he had a problem with me, he should go to her and she would take care of it. So for the next 8 years, I worked under that head of house and had no problems with the president. On 01/01, the head of house resigned. The last day that I worked was 01/15 and the new manager was taking pictures of my food so that she could make a new menu. She also asked me to work the next day, which was a Sunday, but I said that I couldn’t and the I went home. About 8 days after that, the head of house resigned. They had a board meeting and 6 board members voted that I should be fired for belittleing someone, which was not true. Then without any complaints, without any warnings, without any counseling, without anything including not giving me any kind of heads up. The president told them a story and the 6 board members went and voted that I should be fired and 4 of the 6 board members were new and had no idea, how I worked or what I did they just went on the president idea or story, no evadence whatsoever. They fired me on 01/08, 8 days after the head of house left, then I wasn’t told for over a month,that I was fired.The president saw me out numerous times and said nothing, then on a Friday night at 6:30 after over a month went by, he sent another employee to my house and had him tell me i was fired, he gave no reason just at will and I called the president because I had about $1000 worth of cooking equipment and utensils. The president said i would be arrestted for trespassing, so I did nothing but wait and after I called the bookkeeper and she was going to send me my final check in the mail, the president got it and held on to it for about 3 months and he held on to all my cooking equipment also and when I finally did get some stuff back after 3 months most of it wasnt mine ,just older garbage from the club.I had sentamenntal wooden spoons, my dad made from a block of wood, they still have them. I was given no reason for any of this.

Asked on July 5, 2019 under Employment Labor Law, Illinois

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

First of all, unless your discharge violated the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, it was legal. The fact is that most relationships are "at will" which means that a business can fire a worker for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Therefore, your termination was legal. That having been said, you do have recourse regarding your delayed check and the items that were not returned to you. As for the items, you can sue your ex-employer is small claims court for their return or at least to recoup the cost of the tems, so long as you can prove exactly what items they kept and their value. As for your final paycheck, if you still haven't received it then you can sue for that as well in small claims. Even of you have received it, you can file a wage complaint with your state's department of labor since in IL, all final compensation (wages, bonus payments, vacation pay, wages and commissions) must be paid on the next regularly scheduled payday after termination. Accordingly, your former empoyer will face penalties and you may be eligible for further compensation.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

First of all, unless your discharge violated the terms of an employment contract or union agreement, it was legal. The fact is that most relationships are "at will" which means that a business can fire a worker for any reason or no reason at all, with or without notice. Therefore, your termination was legal. That having been said, you do have recourse regarding your delayed check and the items that were not returned to you. As for the items, you can sue your ex-employer is small claims court for their return or at least to recoup the cost of the tems, so long as you can prove exactly what items they kept and their value. As for your final paycheck, if you still haven't received it then you can sue for that as well in small claims. Even of you have received it, you can file a wage complaint with your state's department of labor since in IL, all final compensation (wages, bonus payments, vacation pay, wages and commissions) must be paid on the next regularly scheduled payday after termination. Accordingly, your former empoyer will face penalties and you may be eligible for further compensation.


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