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Wrongful Termination of salaried professional

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Junior Member
What is the name of your state? OHIO

Working as a salaried medical professional with an employment contract (in force). Termination clauses in contract were limited to justifiable causes by employer, such as theft, drug use, incompetence etc., or 2-weeks firm written notice by employee.
Business had been obviously not doing well financially for some time despite my efforts to the contrary (Owner was not advertising or really doing any of the owner's jobs such as maintenance and upkeep, ordering in new inventory, balancing books, when owner was to see clients they were often 1-2 hours late for appointments or no-show resulting in lots of rescheduling and angry clients, etc.)
Contract of employment specified a base salary of $40,000 annually plus a bonus of 20 % of all business transactions performed EXCEEDING $200,000 per year to be paid as a bonus- for example if I billed out $300,000 I took home $60,000. This bonus was calculated on a bi-annual basis and the 6-month bonus was added to my pay in a reasonable time afterwards. THis time started taking longer and longer. Until, the last bonus took 6 months to be paid to me and I was told a draw was taken from a small business loan to pay it and owner was not going to do that again, borrow to make my salary. I worked very hard and performed in the $260,000 range annually so I got a $12,000 bonus annually typically. Note: this bonus was negotiated by the OWNER when we renegotiated my contract last, I had asked for a higher salary and they countered by offering this bonus system.
3 months after my next bonus had been calculated and was due to be paid (still not paid) my spouse had problems with the job meeting payroll and I asked the owner one day when the bonus would be paid since we had some bills coming & my spouse was having money trouble... Owner said they would look into it. Next day I got sent home early since the owner decided there wasn't enough work for me to do. A couple more times that next week I got sent home early or told not to come in. This was highly unusual because the owner did not like to bother coming in to see clients but preferred to let me do all the work (They actually told staff to schedule all appointments during my work times and overflow to be on the boss' schedule if absolutely necessary) which is why I usually had no trouble exceeding my base salary and getting paid bonuses.
Next week I got pulled into the office and handed a new contract written by the boss/owner. My hours would be cut to one day (10 hours) per week at a salary of $8000 annually. Also owner expected me to be on call during all normal working hours of business(Open Mon-Sat) but I would not be paid anything over the $8000 annually for this even if I responded and came in on-call, unless I exceeded $40,000 annually, then a 20% bonus would be paid annually. The owner also highlighted a no-compete clause to my contract stating I could not work at any other business of this type within 50 miles of their business. Problem is I could have gotten some more work in this field by going in on weekends or as a "relief" worker replacing sick/vacationing employees at this type of business at other businesses in the area (I had not done this previously but could have been an option to help out my boss & I could still make some money). Owner said it was because they wanted me to be available on-call when they needed me not somewhere else.
After looking over the contract with my spouse I decided that I could not accept these terms, and notifed the owner that it was unacceptable and I would like to discuss some terms and work together, that I understood they had money problems, etc. Owner said, "Take it or leave it, it is not negotiable." I said no thanks, I would still be willing to work under our old contract. Owner said "I have nothing else to offer you but 2 weeks' severance."
I said thanks, and collected my personal items, etc. and then the owner told me, "Now, since you quit you can't get unemployment." Since I did not quit I didn't understand this, and told the owner that THEY let ME go, according to the new contract they had given me (and let me keep!) and then the owner wrote up a form for me to sign that basically said I was unprofessional, I acted in poor judgement, I was disrespectful & argumentative, I lied to owner and clients, I had taken things from the business (They said I was a thief because I had a PEN with our business' name on it in my pocket, and I left it in my pocket when I went back and forth from home to work on a daily basis, also because I had removed some tissues to wipe some bird crud off of my car windows one day after work and had not asked permission to use thier tissues... crap!) etc etc etc. and the last line was "the undersigned agrees that this behavior represents conduct that would be considered just cause for termination under paragraph XX section XX of employment contract." Of course I didn't sign this, but left, with a copy of this document as well! The boss said if I didn't sign the discipline form they would not pay me the 2-weeks' severance pay, and that offer was now null and void.
Next week I filed for unemployment. I got it and was only on unemployment for 3 weeks before I found another job, farther away but less stress! Previous boss fought the unemployment the whole way through 4 appeals and a hearing, lied on every paper they filed, to the point that their lies contradicted each other when you looked at all of them, lied at the hearing and was caught by their own evidence, etc. and finally after the hearing, the initial ruling was upheld and they were found to have wrongfully terminated me. Having the new and old contracts as evidence and the "discipline" form they tried to have me sign (it was dated the day after the new contract which was a clear time line!) really made the point for the unemployment hearing!
QUESTION: They still owe me for the 6 months bonus from previous year, partial bonus from current year, they cancelled my insurance in the middle of the term I had already paid for and did not refund me the money, they owed me vacation and sick pay I had not used, they owed me reimbursement for expenses they had not gotten around to writing expense checks for, the previously promised 2-weeks' severance pay, etc. etc. to the tune of over $5500. Not to mention they were RUDE and MEAN people about it! What can I do to get it back, and can I sue for wrongful termination and get some meaningful judgement against them like triple damages or something?? I do not understand how this works. I am not the sue-happy type but my former boss really proved to me that they are not nice people and since I left I have been in touch with other former employees who "suddenly" left, and they said that my former boss did this type of stuff to them as well, used what-have-you as an excuse to get rid of them. None of them stood up to my former boss and just did whatever it took to put it behind them, so they never fought back when the former boss challenged their unemployment.
I understand now that they have continued to let people go and not replaced them and their client base has shrunk about 40% since I left and money is getting very tight to the point that a lot of their vendors have cut them off from getting new product. If they go under bankruptcy I know I won't get a dime, but I didn't want to do a lawsuit over Christmas.
Any advice would be appreciated.
Please note no extremely specific info because I do not want to be identified by my former boss. Thanks.


Senior Member
I suggest you consult with an employment attorney, take documentation of you case along with you. While you may have a civil case greater than small cliams court, if business is bad you will have to look at all the possible costs of a lawsuit and the likelyhood of collecting a larger settlement and the other option of small claims court. Even if you have a good case, if an attorney won't take it on contingency then small claims may be the way to go, especially if the business is failing. Also, while you have found new employment, realize that a lawsuit may make your current employer uneasy. Exactly what sort of medical business?


Junior Member
Update on above situation:
I have been contacted by several former clients from when I worked at my previous business. Also I have spoken with several other employees of that business including 2 former employees. They have told me that many clients have come into the business looking specifically to do business with me; when told I no longer work there, they ask where I am and why I left. My former boss is telling them several different things. None of them are nice or even true. My former boss insinuates that I was dishonest and that the financial problems at that business were my fault. Also several clients were told that I was terminated and then my former boss goes on to say, "Well, when you have money and inventory shortages, you have to look at your employees and make some decisions about letting them go."
When I started working at this business they were on the ragged edge of bankruptcy. Over the 5 years I worked there I built their business up from barely $100,000 annually to over $400,000 annually. Upon my leaving business has faltered again due to the owner/boss not wanting to work and not advertising still and I would estimate (from speaking to other people still working there) that they are down to the $200,000 or less annually range and business is falling rapidly.

My previous employer has done this to other previous employees as well. When I worked there my former boss would speak very poorly of previous employees and accuse them of theft in conversation, like, "Oh, when Dr. XXX worked here I had all kinds of problems, Dr. XXX stole this and Dr. XXX stole that and I wouldn't trust them to take our money and go buy lunch at Wendy's without counting the change..." Speaking with employees there I was told that my former boss is now speaking of me like that to her employees and to people in the industry, like representatives of pharmaceutical firms and referring clinicians.

I found out a person who was considering hiring me called for a reference because they were personally familiar with my ex-employer, and my ex-boss told them they fired me for dishonesty and theft. Needless to say I did not get the job. This prospective employer and I met at a conference recently and the prospective employer told me this in person, and they were very surprised to have heard that about me since they had known of me by reputation for years, and I am known as a good person. However, they said they had heard of my former boss saying this about anyone who ever left their employment and my former boss' credibility was somewhat lacking, after all, why is it that every ex-employee was stealing or dishonest or somehow awful through 15 years of business? It seemed far fetched to this prospective employer but still they did not hire me.

I understand that you are hearing only my side of the story here and I know everyone says they are innocent when accused of something but I NEVER did anything dishonest or illegal NOT EVER.

I will say that when I say medical professional I am a Doctor.

When I applied for unemployment my former boss told me that if I filed that they would guarantee that I never worked again in the area. My former boss said specifically that "If you file for unemployment then I will have no choice but to tell the truth about you and your reputation will suffer." I asked, "What truth? That I worked hard and did what was expected? That I covered for your mistakes? That I did all the work because you didn't want to?" My former boss said, "No, MY truth. They only will hear what I have to say. I can say only so much but I know how to say it. I will only tell you that you need to think about what your reputation in this area is worth because I don't think anyone will hire you after listening to what I will tell them. You need to think about this before filing for unemployment and saying I fired you. If you agree that you quit and sign this now, then you will have no problems in the future."

I feel that my former boss is now actively engaged in slander and is trying to destroy my reputation. I already have a new job as I said, but if my reputation is being smeared by my former boss in our industry what will happen later?

I was angry before and just wanted the pay that was due me and to get this over with but if they are going to go after me and my career then the gloves are coming off. I want to put them out of business now. What can I sue them for and how much can I expect?


Senior Member
Have you consulted with an employment attorney yet?
Did you ever apply for unemployment? Or did you find other employment before you received benefits?
Exactly what is your speciality? I ask because a few things don't jive and could affect your potential case. While you have provided a lot of informaiton much of it was guarded.


Junior Member
After participating in several on-line forums for various interest groups I have learned that you should never be too specific in either your personal information or the specific details simply because there are a lot of forum trolls out there who will only seek to cause problems and not give an honest opinion. I understand that nobody here will give an official legal opinion however it's nice to bounce ideas off of someone who may be "in the know" regarding the specific legalities. The gross specifics of this case are 100% correct however some small items have been altered but not changed to simply protect me from someone being able to say, "Oh, this is Dr. SO-and-So." I am not lying or trying to make my case look better and after all every argument has 2 sides however I would prefer that this be used as a model to examine rather than actually using this as a specific case. I do not want my ex-employer to log on to this and see what I am doing and how I feel for the proposed lawsuit!

Furthermore, I do not wish to give specific details about names, places, etc. due to the fact that I cannot rule out that my previous employer or their spouse could already be a member of this site.

Prior to my current contract I worked full time, 40-45 hours per week at the practice in question. I was paid a management bonus as well as productivity bonuses due to the fact that I had been considering buying in as a partner in the paractice at one time and the owner (also a doctor) had me doing some of the practice management duties in their absence (and they were absent a lot- owner did not like to come in for early morning appointments, usually 1-2 hours late, took 2-3 hour lunches, left early consistently, left me double or triple booked for appointments and didn't show up, etc.) After family leave I came back at reduced hours (30-35) under the employment contract as stated in the original post. The management bonus was removed from my contract since I did not work every day any more and management duties were no longer compensated or called for; however I still performed some of those duties since the owner did not like to come to work. The original negotiations for the contract spelled out a higher base salary and no production bonus however we could not come to terms with a fair salary (I wanted 75% hours, 75% salary, 75% benefits, they countered with 75% hours, 50% salary and no benefits!) After being deadlocked the practice owner counteroffered the production bonus of 20% of gross procedures performed by me with a large list of exclusions which would not count towards the bonus, on top of a lesser salary. I accepted. The owner then instructed staff that the owner did not want to have to come in if not required to do so and required that all appointments be made on the days that I worked; the days that the owner worked were to be used by last resort. As a result I wound up seing the lion's share of the business and therefore my bonus was always high. After paying it out a few times I am sure that the bonus began to weigh heavily against their pocketbook but that was not my fault- it was in the contract at their request and agreed upon by both of us.

I did file for unemployment about 2-3 weeks after I was terminated. I delayed because at that time I felt I could work things out with my former boss and they had promised me 2 weeks' severance pay. After I finally realized how things were going to go and how mean they were being I filed for unemployment. I received benefits for 3 weeks total before locating and starting a new job.

I received notice that my unemployment was being apealed by my former employer. After several reviews, redeterminations, re-appeals, etc. the case was heard at an unemployment hearing. I and my former employer presented witnesses and described our various actions at the time of my dismissal. The result of the hearing (Director's decision and review board ruling) was that I had been wrongfully terminated and was therefore eligible for benefits (Which meant I would not have to pay back the money I had received from unemployment for the three weeks I drew benefits). The specific words, "Wrongful termination" were the actual words used as the outcome of the hearing.

The last step in the unemployment appeals process is to file suit in the court of common pleas of my resident county to appeal the decision; Intelligence I have gathered indicate that they are going to engage an attorney and try to do this. Furthermore, I have heard rumors that there was a large inventory snafu (the owner's invenotry was never corrected for the 5 years I worked there!) and they are going to file an inventory adjustment and declare the shortages to be theft by unknown persons. The intelligence sources I have spoken with say that my former employer is doing this for a tax loss and for insurance money and that myself and 3 other ex-employees will be blamed in some way for this. (As I said before, everyone accused of theft says they are innocent. I can do no more than say the same thing, and that I know that none of the other 3 employees who were terminated in the past 12 months were guilty either.) I can say that my former boss was very petty and if a client made an error in writing a cheque ( for example, writing a cheque for $31.67 when the bill was $31.76) the owner would explode in the office later while totalling the receipts and say things like, "That Jew ******* look at them they knew they were doing this on purpose to rip me off! You can't trust anyone! Everyone steals from me!"
I know first hand they accused one of the ex-employees of theft for removing an item, in the bag with receipt, at the end of shift. The owner confronted the employee as they were leaving, the employee showed the receipt and opened the bag, the owner accused the employee of taking the item to their car already and putting another one in the bag before they left, the employee offered to let the owner search the car and their person, this was declined by owner who vaguely threatened the employee with physical harm, then the employee told the owner to go to hell (Not those exact words but you know what I mean) and quit on the spot. The entire incident I was a witness to; The ex-employee was a very honest young lady who wouldn't dream of speeding let alone stealing and had worked there for 3 years prior to the incident.
I seriously believe the owner (ex boss) has some sort of mental issues or something because you could be their friend for years then suddenly they would snap and suspect you of anything they could think of... sort of paranoia or something. It could be very unpleasant to work there because you never knew when to watch your back! One minute the owner was friendly and kind the next they were raving about how people were stealing them blind.

Thanks for your interest.

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