Can I Be Fired By Someone Who Is Not An Employee of the Company?

Question:
I was fired from my new job by the owner’s girlfriend who is not an employee at the company. She fired me at a time that both my manager and owner were not in the office. I was fired after only four and half days of training. The excuse given was the company was going in another direction and I was not a good fit and wasn’t grasping the duties.

I was told when hired I would have at least two weeks of training. When I took the position they were over a month behind with billing, bonuses etc. I learned the program and bonus structure in two days without a written training manual. On day three my manager did not know that there was not a training manual for this area. She asked a senior employee to write one. That employee created a flyer format manual that had about eight steps. I brought them to two days shy of being completely up to date.

I was also asked if I would update the training manual created by senior employee, using my knowledge and recent experience with it. The person who was assigned to train me further ignored the manager’s request to do it, as well as a senior employee request. She and another employee who were friends, openly humiliated me because I wasn’t trained on the phone system. I also discovered discrepancies with charges and billing and brought it to the manager’s attention. The employee who was to train me warned me on my second day that I was not allowed to correct her work. She did this openly in front of two employees and within ear shot of my manager.

I was given a number to contact an off-site manager to help him with his salesperson sheet discrepancies. I was told by him that he only deals with the employee who was training me and demanded I transfer him to her. After the call she reprimanded me by telling me I was not allowed to call him until I run it by all employees in the office. I brought it to her attention while learning my job that the amounts may be false claims or errors. After that she told me that anything to do with this manager’s employees were to be given to her and entered by me under my ID.

I was assigned the task by the manager and the manager never counseled me regarding my performance. Despite that I was fired by a non-employee of the company who was the owner’s girlfriend. She also had access to my entire personnel file that had background information, financial information etc. Is it legal that a company allow access to my personnel file to someone not employed with the company and be able to legally fire me? I have not heard from the manager. I was fired on Friday and it is Sunday. I’m concerned about my personal information at this stage.

Response: 

It sounds as though you will be better off not working for that company! Even if you had been retained longer, it isn’t likely you would have felt comfortable with the arguing employees, mixed messages by managers and ineffective or inaccurate work processes, if things are as you describe.

Unless you signed a contract that specified obligations on the part of the company, related to termination, the owner can ask a representative to handle personnel actions, including termination—and the representative doesn’t have to work directly for the company. For example, there are HR consultants who specialize in termination procedures. In your situation I would bet the girlfriend is involved with many aspects of the company and was asked to handle the awkward situation of firing you after only a few days of work. You say that your manager was within hearing distance when you were being treated rudely by your trainer, so your manager either thought it was OK or just didn’t want to be involved.

I can also understand your concern about your personal information. One of the hazards of filling out employment forms and creating employee records is that a great deal of personal information is listed. There are several laws that prohibit that information from being used for fraud or impersonation purposes. If you suspect or find out that has happened, you can contact the District Attorney or county attorney in your area to ask for advice about filing charges. Your state may have laws about employees being given access to the records of other employees, but you would have to prove that had happened. The person terminating you would lawfully be able to see your records, since she was acting on behalf of the owner.

I’m sorry the job ended up so badly for you. It does seem as though you were expected to do a lot but not appreciated for it. If this has never happened before, you can just assume it is a bad workplace with bad managers and problem employees. If you have ever had a similar conflict at other places, perhaps there is a common thread that can assist you in future jobs. I think one thing is for sure—you would never have liked that workplace, so the sooner you have a chance to find someplace else, the better.

 

Tina Rowe
Ask the Workplace Doctors