I have a business idea (the business still is not set up) that I have been speaking to investors about. One of the investors it turns out knew my boss and let slip that I had met with him (lesson learnt in both speaking to my boss and trusting others).

When my boss found out he immediately called me into a meeting and fired me saying I had breached my contract and would not receive any compensation. He then told the rest of the company I was attempting to steal their ideas and set up a new business.

It's very clear to anyone knowledgeable in the area that the business idea and what the company does are very different but as they are in the same general field I decided to check with a lawyer first (before speaking to investors) that the idea would not violate my contract, which they confirmed.

I, therefore, accepted the firing, knowing that I had not breached my contract and would simply claim the appropriate compensation from the company. However, it seems my boss now has come to the realisation that indeed I was not attempting to steal the company's ideas and is backtracking on the firing.

I was never given official papers showing I had been fired but have a fair amount of evidence this event took place. I also do not want to go back to work in what would be a now hostile environment.

What is my best course of action? Am I able to quit immediately while still claiming for some sort of unfair dismissal? It is a European company.

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    As they say in the military, this is above my pay grade. You need a lawyer for this one, – Old_Lamplighter Jan 17 '17 at 19:23
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    Talk to your lawyer again. – Lilienthal Jan 17 '17 at 19:30
  • Is it a European company in Europe or in the USA? – gnasher729 Jan 17 '17 at 19:35
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    You best course of action is to talk with your lawyer. They get paid to provide exactly that kind of advice. – WorkerDrone Jan 17 '17 at 19:38
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    Even if you're still employed with them, I'm pretty sure that you can get them on the hook for bullying. Contact a lawyer ASAP. If your goal is a good compensation and to be on your way then I'm sure that a legal professional can find a way to make that happen. The only question is how much that might cost you in legal fees. – AndreiROM Jan 17 '17 at 19:49

Tomorrow you go to HR and get in writing what your status is - fired, given notice, or employed. Best to take a witness with you, and if they refuse to tell you in writing, you write down and let the witness sign that they refused. If you are employed, you are responsible for your future. If you are given notice, you check if everything was done by the book and if not, you get a lawyer to make them pay. If you are fired, you get a lawyer to make them pay.

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First, check that your contract did not have a non-compete or a "no secondary jobs" clause. Many companies see themselves as paying not just for you, but for your expertise. Using said expertise for another company could be seen as a drain on their companies' assets, and the company will prevent asset drain when possible.

Second, I'm not sure that someone bringing me into a meeting and saying "You're Fired" is in any way unclear or unofficial. I've never had paperwork saying I was fired. Simply a "thanks for your work, your services won't be needed, Jim will show you to the door now, have a good day". Admittedly, this is in a state where you're free to hire or fire without notice or reason, so your mileage may vary.

As for best course, only you can say. Will returning to the work environment be more stressful and unproductive? Will it simply leave you open for future firing for grounds (you produce less, they can fire you for that instead of for an ethereal "other reason"). Will leaving for another job prolong the opening of the new business and would your time be better spent working to get that up and running while you have some free time?

I'd ask them what they want from you if you come back, and be clear on what the terms are of the firing/returning/continued employment. Personally, I wouldn't go back to that environment. I dislike wishy-washy bosses, especially when that means they don't know when they want to fire me or not.

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    Regarding the first point; the OP stated "...I decided to check with a lawyer first (before speaking to investors) that the idea would not violate my contract, which they confirmed." -- so, his lawyer already reviewed his contract and verified there were no such clauses. Edit: actually, his words are "that the IDEA would not violate..." not necessary the same thing as what you are saying. I don't know. – Aron Jan 17 '17 at 20:13
  • Yes, I was pointing out that, while the idea may not violate any clause, the fact that they are working for an outside entity might. I've worked for a company that not only forbade any coding work outside office, they attempted to claim rights to any and all code I produced during my employment. To them (a dealership management system) they owned any code I produced; a personal web site or even a game for Steam. – SliderBlackrose Jan 18 '17 at 19:16

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