Articles Posted in retaliation

Claims of whistleblower retaliation filed under labor laws in California are going to be weighed by the standard set forth in that law, rather than the more stringent burden-shifting test that was laid out in the 1973 case of McDonnell Douglas Corp. v. Green. This was the recent ruling of the California Supreme Court in the case of Lawson v. PPG Architectural Finishes, Inc.California whistleblower retaliation lawyer

As our Riverside worker retaliation lawyers can explain, Labor Code section 1102.5 stipulates that employers can’t make or enforce any rule that prevents an employee from whistleblowing. Employers also cannot retaliate against a worker for whistleblowing. Whistleblowing is defined as the disclosure of information to a government or law enforcement agency when the employee has reason to believe the disclosure reveals a violation of state or federal law by the company.

In the following provision of the law, Labor Code section 1102.6, which went into effect in 2004, lawmakers stipulated that once the worker establishes a prima facie case that retaliation for whistleblowing was at least one contributing factor of the negative employment action, the proof burden is then on the employer, who must prove by clear and convincing evidence it would have happened for legitimate, independent reasons, regardless of the employee’s whistleblowing.

But despite this seemingly straightforward law, some California courts weighing whistleblower retaliation cases have been instead applying the proof burden set in the McDonnell Douglas ruling. This standard was established in the context of handling Title VII discrimination claims. The latter test – widely acknowledged to be much more employer-friendly than the standard set forth in California Labor Code – requires that once the employee proves unlawful retaliation, the employer can evade liability by simply showing the adverse action was taken for reasons that were non-retaliatory and legitimate. The employee still bears the burden of proving the reason the employer gave was merely a pretext for illegal retaliation.

The Lawson ruling is considered a victory for future plaintiff/employees. Continue Reading ›

A finding of California employer retaliation has resulted in a $150 million verdict against an insurance company accused of firing a former executive for the firm as he prepared to testify in a discrimination case against them. It’s believed to be the largest verdict in Los Angeles County and the third-largest of its kind in the state. jury verdict California employment law

The Los Angeles jury issued the verdict in Rudnicki v. Farmers Insurance Exchange following less than 60 minutes of deliberations.

According to Reuters, the employment lawsuit was filed in 2017, with plaintiff alleging he was scapegoated amid allegations of gender pay disparities at the company.  He’d been employed by the firm nearly four decades, but was abruptly terminated just prior to a class action settlement, stemming from a lawsuit filed by female attorneys at the firm alleging a major gender discrimination gap in pay.

The former executive, who’d once served as the firm’s senior vice president, said the company had been concerned about what he might reveal about their gendered pay practices if he testified in that case. They reportedly blamed him for unlawful conduct and terminated him in an effort to discredit him. He alleged unlawful retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of California’s labor laws.

Lawyers for the defendant insurer insisted the plaintiff was fired because he:

  • Was making sexist, inappropriate comments to coworkers.
  • Failed to take appropriate action when female employees brought to light the underrepresentation of women in management at the firm.
  • Failed to properly handle/preserve pertinent legal documents, in accordance with company policy.

Jurors no doubt eyed critically the fact that the firing came almost immediately after he was deposed in the gender discrimination lawsuit, providing testimony that supported the plaintiffs’ allegations that the insurer’s pay practices were discriminatory against attorneys who were female. He was expected to testify to the same at trial. The case was later settled for $4 million.

Cooperating and assisting in a legal proceeding regarding discrimination is protected activity. Firing or retaliating against an employee for engaging in such proceedings is illegal, considered to be wrongful termination and retaliation. Continue Reading ›

Employer retaliation in violation of federal law (punishing of an employee for engaging in legally protected activity) can take many forms – demotion, discipline, salary reduction, a job or shift reassignment. Sometimes it’s more subtle than that. And then other times, it’s a driveway full of oily pennies. Los Angeles employment lawyer

An employer in Georgia is facing a federal lawsuit for workplace retaliation for doing just that. The U.S. Department of Labor alleges the incident began with a former employee complaining to its offices about not receiving his final paycheck – an act that violates federal law.

The incident made headlines when the girlfriend of the former auto repair shop employee posted a video on her Instagram of the oil-slicked, coppery mess in their driveway. In total, there were 91,500 pennies dumped in the driveway, the employee’s final paycheck sitting on top, addressed with a handwritten expletive.

The DOL filed its federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, alleging the act was employer retaliation for a complaint the former employee made to federal authorities in January 2021 to report he hadn’t received his final paycheck for $915. His last day worked had been in November 2020. The pennies were dumped on the former employee’s driveway in March 2021. Continue Reading ›

A new California sexual harassment lawsuit has rocked the gaming world, with an avalanche of dissent and claims of “frat boy culture” dominating descriptions of Activision Blizzard, the video gaming company that own games like “Call of Duty,” “Candy Crush” and “World of Warcraft.” Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer

The upheaval and high-profile exit is reminiscent of what our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers have noted in the culture of the gaming industry (long noted for its misogyny), but some are speculating this could have reverberations throughout the tech world and even corporate America.

This all started with a California sexual harassment lawsuit filed last month by the state’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing. According to the complaint, multiple female employees were subjected to gender discrimination, sexual harassment and unequal pay. Company executives reportedly were aware of the harassment and other problems, but failed to take reasonable steps to halt illegal conduct. Instead, the lawsuit alleges, the company retaliated against the complainants. Continue Reading ›

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