California Employer.

After receiving negative performance feedback several times and showing improvement each time, I was scheduled for a meeting with my manager along with HR. Given the addition of HR, I thought something could be up so I started a voice recording app on the phone just in case. I also did not alert them that I was recording. Then during the meeting, I was given the following options:

  1. Undergo a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) for 30 days. They said it would be very stressful, challenging, and that it'd be like taking an exam every day. If I miss a metric, that would be grounds for termination. Then when the HR rep asked my manager if she believed this would help me improve my performance, my manager said No. She said that my personality wasn't a good fit for the fast paced startup life and that I am better suited in a larger company where day to day tasks don't change as much.
  2. Opt for a 'Mutual Resignation' so there won't be a discharge on my record and that I could leave on good terms. The HR rep told me that if I put down 'mutual resignation' on the unemployment benefits claim, they would not contest it.

Given a couple of days to think about things, I thought that if my manager does not see me as a good fit even if I go through and complete the PIP, then she has already made up her mind in that she doesn't want me on the team and that I should just opt for the mutual resignation.

When meeting with them again (which I also voice recorded without alerting them), I double check that resigning won't impact my unemployment claim and check that there are no other openings or options within the company for me (nope - headcount freeze).

Given all this, I opt for the mutual resignation. I also sent out an email documenting each performance eval and the mutual resignation discussion. Ended the email by asking them to let me know if I missed anything. They didn't respond to the email.

After exiting and filing my unemployment claim, I get a phone call asking for more details. The agent tells me that my claim doesn't look like it'll get approved and that I may have to appeal as the employer is saying something else than 'mutual resignation'.

When appealing, I plan to bring up the email as it documents my version of the story which they didn't reply to. The recording provides direct proof of my claim, but can I bring up this recording if needed? It wasn't recorded with their consent.

  • 2
    As you described it, it think there was really never a possibility to stay with this company. Your option 1 only ever existed for them to have some grounds for terminate. Next time, get everything in written form and never trust on words. Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 6:55
  • 2
    Talk to a lawyer. Specific employment disputes and the legal value of potentially illicit recordings are not something we can cover on this site.
    – Lilienthal
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 7:40
  • There's no plan for you to stay. Seriously.
    – SmallChess
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 8:32

1 Answer 1


California is a two party consent state. You've already broken the law by recording them without their knowledge, don't hand them the evidence.

I would delete the recording but include the email as part of your appeal.

  • I see thank you. I also have an email outlining the specific events in more detail where I confirm with them that I was told to put down 'Mutual Resignation' on the claim. Do you think that'd help?
    – user79364
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 5:48
  • 1
    @user79364 I think that'd be a separate question.
    – Erik
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 5:57
  • @user79364 The email will help, did they respond or acknowledge the email? Can you edit the question to include information about the email?
    – JonK
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 5:59
  • Edited the post above. They did not acknowledge or respond to the email. Really appreciate the help JonK
    – user79364
    Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 6:42

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