In 2012 I was hired by a private practice healthcare professional to do her insurance billing. At the time it was just her and her front desk person. She was in "retirement mode" and hardly coming to work. She was backed up and we were barely making enough money to keep the lights on so I decided to get my state license to be able to generate more income for the practice. In August 2015 she sold her business to an off-site corporation who was thrilled about me becoming a provider and hired a replacement for her who would continue to train me which, at that time, was only 3 more months. By this time, I was not only doing the insurance and billing, but also seeing patients because the provider retired and the new provider did not know what she was doing yet, and front desk person is a whole other story. I was doing all of the ordering, the repairs, the maintenance, the bookkeeping etc. You name it. So 2 months later they fired the front desk person and informed me that I was now a glorified secretary. Mind you, this did not come with any pay increase. I had asked for 3 raises in my time with the company and have been denied every time because we "aren't in a profitable position."

The new provider became hostile with me. She is argumentative, rude and unapproachable. She took away all of my patients. She also has never trained me. Not one minute. I have caught her talking about me to patients and to our boss. I have caught her lying about me saying I refuse to do certain things. She has been trying to get me fired since day one. She also convinced the big bosses that she doesn't have time to continue my training so I will be unable to sit for the state exam (I've been training for this day for over a year) I have spoken with the boss (off-site one) about the communication problem between the new provider and myself several times. He told me he would have me included on the weekly call which never happened. He also told me the issues would be addressed when one of our reps came out which also never happened. I sent him several emails, he never responded. This has been going on for 6+ months. I have documented EVERYTHING.

Anyway, someone from corporate had emailed me and asked me about some of the forms we use and I told him that we used to use all sorts of forms but since the new provider came on we now only use one. I also told him that just last week when I was looking over my state licensing info (to see if I could possibly pass without being trained) I noticed that we are required by law to be using a LOT of forms that we haven't been. She should know this. My email was not accusatory sounding but informative and helpful. He came back saying that "someone" must've told her NOT to use those forms we were previously using and that he had a hard time believing I told her certain things were required by the state and she chose to disregard it and that I was "deferring responsibility."

Later that night one of the guys from the company was out here for a seminar and apparently was giving out his business card at the bar looking for my replacement. My dentist told me this.

I guess my question is, what are my rights here? I have 2 kids and I am a single mom. I have done EVERYTHING for this company. I am an extremely hard worker and have put this job first for too long. I have not taken one single vacation. This new lady is on her THIRD vacation since she has been here! I have 95 hours of PTO! Oh, AND according to the contract I signed which i THOUGHT was for the provider since the front office woman, the provider and myself all got the same one, I cannot work within a 20 mile radius of this office or ANY office they own for 2 YEARS after quitting OR being fired!!! They own a TON of practices!

I am sorry this was so long. Please help.

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    It depends upon the laws that govern the territory in which you reside. In some places in the US, you can easily be fired for no reason at all. The same applies to your non-compete. – user45269 Mar 20 '17 at 19:49
  • @Prinz More precisely, any reason (or no reason) as long as it's not an illegal reason. – EJoshuaS - Reinstate Monica Mar 20 '17 at 22:13
  • "according to the contract I signed ... I cannot work within a 20 mile radius of this office or ANY office they own for 2 YEARS after quitting OR being fired!!!" - I have no idea of the legality of any of your post but this seems questionable - how can they even enforce this, short of taking you to court? And it seems you have plenty of evidence against them. I'm thinking there must surely be a way around this. Also when asking about the law, you should really tag with your jurisdiction - laws are different everywhere! – colmde Mar 21 '17 at 9:32
  • Generally speaking, you may be screwed. The non-compete may not be enforceable, but you'd have to chance getting sued to find that out, and that's very expensive and you probably can't afford it. This may suck and be a bitter pill to swallow, but prepare for being fired and prepare to change your field of work. – user308386 Mar 21 '17 at 9:48
  • Yes, I apologize for not tagging correctly. I actually stumbled across this site when searching for what my options were and I am glad I did. I am new to all this. – Laura Mar 21 '17 at 13:17

Almost all employment in the USA nowadays is considered "at-will" unless you are a protected class which, sadly, means that you can be fired at any time at the discretion of the employer. If you look through documents that you signed when you were hired you might be able to find that.

However if you are released by the company you will be able to file for unemployment and assuming it can't be proved that you were fired for negligence or unsatisfactory performance then your claim will be good.

I also strongly advise bring that non-compete statement that you signed to a lawyer and ask them if they can legally enforce it. An office I worked at had a very broad, generic non-compete statement and every lawyer I showed it to said that there would be no way it would be enforceable. The fact that you signed it though might mean that you have to abide by it, all depends on how it's worded exactly.

In all honesty it sounds like you should be looking to move on anyways, but take my advice and don't quit, make them release you. Depending on the state's laws they might have to pay out your PTO in a lump sum payment or they might have to within a certain time period, definitely look to see what your state's law is. Also if you quit you will not be able to file for an unemployment benefits, if they fire you you can.

  • The front office person that they fired got screwed out of ALL of her PTO. Do you recommend I try and take as much of it as I can? I am assuming they are going to wait to fire me until they have a replacement so I was just going to try and take as much vacation as I can although I could REALLY use the money. Plus I have nowhere to go. :) – Laura Mar 20 '17 at 20:09
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    @Laura, Start looking for a new job now and take the PTO in chunks around the dates that you have interviews. When you find something new, take the rest of it, then hand in your two week notice. – user45269 Mar 20 '17 at 20:19
  • What do you mean "screwed out of ALL of her PTO"? That's illegal, if it's earned PTO they have to pay it out when you're terminated. I guess you can try to use it when you can to avoid the issue of them owing you more. I did a little research and apparently only 24 states have laws in place where unused vacation or sick time has to be paid out. Maybe you don't live in one of those states? I read this article here about it: thebalance.com/… – Pork Pants Mar 20 '17 at 20:23
  • @Pork Pants When she was terminated, they never paid her for the unused PTO. Apparently, New Jersey law does not require employers to pay for accrued unused vacation time when an employee leaves. – Laura Mar 21 '17 at 14:08
  • @Laura yeah it looks like New jersey doesn't have that law. Definitely need to get your PTO used up then – Pork Pants Mar 21 '17 at 14:29

Can I be fired without a reason?

If you are in a state that allows at-will employment, and there are no other local laws or contracts prohibiting it - yes, you can be fired for any reason or no reason.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/At-will_employment

What are my rights?

If you are in a labor union, talk to your union rep.

Otherwise, talk to your lawyer or your state's Attorney General's office or your state's Department of Labor.

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