Articles Posted in wrongful termination

After injuring her wrist on the job, being accused of theft, and having her employment terminated after 14 years, one former Chipotle wrongful terminationemployee finally has been vindicated. A jury awarded her nearly $8 million in damages as the result of a wrongful termination lawsuit plaintiff filed in Fresno County Superior Court after she was fired in 2015. Managers accused her of stealing $626 from the chain restaurant, and went so far as to tell her they had surveillance footage of the incident. When plaintiff denied the theft and demanded managers produce the video, they claimed it was deleted, expecting her to be satisfied with eye witness testimony of other employees who claimed to have seen the video, according to a report from The Fresno Bee.

This was unacceptable to plaintiff, and jury members agreed. Not only did they not believe plaintiff to be a thief, but determined she was a victim in the whole ordeal. Plaintiff alleged she was framed for the theft as retaliation for filing a worker’s compensation claim. Ortiz was fired while she was out on medical leave, weeks after the theft allegedly took place. She had filed a worker’s compensation claim shortly before the alleged incident, and continued to work to the best of her abilities until she could start her leave. At the same time, plaintiff alleged that supervisors were instructing her to downplay her injury to her doctors so she would not have to take medical leave, but she refused. Plaintiff argues this set up motivation to try to defame her. Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits an employer from retaliating an employee from asserting their rights under the law, including for medical conditions.

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California Labor Law once again has demonstrated itself to be a protector of employees, as one former Allstate Insurance Co. employee canwrongful termination lawyer attest. A jury recently awarded the employee more than 18 million dollars in a wrongful termination lawsuit in San Diego Superior Court on allegations that Allstate did not have grounds to fire him in 2015.

The outcome here hinged largely on CA Labor Code, 432.7, which states no employer shall determine any condition of employment on “any record of arrest or detention that did not result in conviction.” That means if an employee is arrested, but the charges were dropped or the person was found not guilty, the employer cannot use it as cause to fire the employee.

That’s exactly what plaintiff claimed happened at Allstate, according to an article in San Diego Union Tribune. Plaintiff had been arrested on two charges of domestic violence and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Two charges were dismissed shortly after. The third charge of domestic violence disorderly conduct was also dismissed six months after the others upon plaintiff’s completion of an anger management course. Continue reading

wrongful terminationTwo cheerleaders have filed lawsuits against the National Football League for what they say was wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment. One cheerleader for the New Orleans Saints was dismissed after she posted a bathing suit photo of herself online, and another for the Miami Dolphins left after she was allegedly harassed for publicly discussing her choice to remain abstinent until marriage.

What do they most hope to get out of the lawsuits? Change.

In a surprise turn of events, their attorney recently offered to drop the lawsuits in exchange for a $1 settlement and a face-to-face talk with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, according to an article from The Nation. They want a good faith conversation about how to set clear guidelines going forward that are fair to all employees. The two plaintiffs have very different stories that they allege concluded with the same result: discrimination and loss of their dream jobs. Continue reading

It’s always unfortunate when the trust between an employer and employee is broken. We see it every day in our line of wrongful terminationwork, defending employees whose rights have been violated on the job. It’s doubly hard when an employer chooses to lash out against those who take legal action to protect their rights. The good news is this kind of retaliation is not legal and you are not without options to fight back.

We saw this recently, in Orange County, where the executive assistant of county supervisor Todd Spitzer is suing him for a second time, alleging defamation that followed a wrongful termination in 2016. According to The Orange County Register, the wrongful termination lawsuit was settled last year. Now, plaintiff says her former boss told reporters and other third parties her firing was the result of incompetence, rather than a wage and hour dispute. He further allegedly told these others she refused to take necessary computer classes and implied she could not complete basic computer tasks.

Plaintiff said not only were those statements false, but they are now hurting her ability to find new employment. This spurred the second filing in Superior Court of California, County of Orange. At the time these alleged statements were made, plaintiff says she had already completed several computer classes on her own accord. The lawsuit alleges she even requested an additional computer class, a request which Spitzer rejected shortly before letting her go. It’s worth noting plaintiff worked for the county supervisor for three years by the time of her firing. It would seem one would not survive long in that role absent basic computer knowledge.

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While the Army is preparing dedicated men and women to be brave and strong and defend our country, it does not prepare them for one terrible challenge no one wantsmilitary status discrimination to face: losing their job. Even worse is when military status discrimination is suspected to be the cause of the dismissal.

This brings us to Austin, Texas, home of a nonprofit technology company currently being sued on allegations it wrongfully fired an Army Reservist in 2016 shortly after he returned from fulfilling military obligations as a result of him completing those duties. The U.S. Justice Department, who filed the lawsuit jointly with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas, says this is in direct violation of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. This act, U.S. Code, Chapter 43, Part III, Title 38, states that “a person who … has an obligation to perform service in a uniformed service shall not be denied initial employment, reemployment, retention in employment, promotion, or any benefit of employment by an employer on the basis of that membership, application for membership, performance of service, application for service, or obligation.”

The employee was a lieutenant colonel who had served in the Armed Forces for 22 years. The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court, Western District of Texas, Austin Division, is seeking an amount equal to lost wages and benefits for plaintiff.

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Even within organizations whose mission is to protect the rights of others, it is possible for questionable practices that infringe on rights to taint the reputation and wrongful terminationculture of the group. San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Pride has been caught up in accusations and internal tensions since the dismissal of its executive director in August 2016. Now the former employee is suing the group for wrongful termination as well as age discrimination and defamation of character.

The former executive director recently filed the lawsuit in Superior Court of California, County of San Diego claiming his firing by the group’s board was personal and not based on performance or any sort of wrongdoing, according to a report from San Diego Reader. In fact, other group members and staffers were so incensed by the dismissal they demanded plaintiff be reinstated, protesting the decision at one of the organization’s monthly meetings shortly after the firing.

Particularly noteworthy to those who defended plaintiff at the time of the dismissal was the booming success of San Diego Pride under his leadership. Many credit him for the record-breaking year the group had in 2016, according to NBC San Diego, including an influx of grants and popular events. He was seen as a rising star in the organization since he joined in 2013, first as an independent contractor, quickly escalating to general manager and then executive director the next year. The board remained vague on the sudden dismissal, citing a desire to “go in a different direction,” causing more unrest among group members upset over the lack of transparency. Continue reading

California is an at-will employment state, which means employees can be fired for any reason and with no warning. There are however some exceptions to the rule that would categorize such dismissals as a wrongful termination.wrongful termination

Some examples include if there was an agreement that required good cause for termination or if there was discrimination against a protected class. According to the California Labor Code Section 1102.5, an employer is also forbidden from firing an employee for refusing to commit an illegal act. Likewise, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee by terminating them for reporting such illegal activities. Such exceptions are essential to maintain laws and to protect whistleblowers who risk their livelihoods to come forward.

Whistleblower retaliation can be difficult to prove without proper guidance. If this sounds like something you have experienced on the job, it is important to seek assistance from a knowledgeable employment attorney who can counsel you on your rights and if there is a case for a lawsuit. Continue reading

California, like most states, allows for at-will employment. That’s a term used in U.S. labor law that explains contractual relationships in which employees can be fired by an employer for any reason (i.e., without just cause) and without any warning. “Cause” is interpreted to mean a fair and honest cause or reason, regulated by good faith on the part of the employer. California’s Labor Code contains the presumption that employees are employed at-will.wrongful termination lawyer

There are several exceptions to employment at will. These include:

  • Public sector employees.
  • Employees represented by unions (covered by collective bargaining agreements);
  • Employees who have contracts (written or implied) that require good cause for termination;
  • Employees whose employers have said/ done something to overcome the presumption of at-will employment.

In a recent wrongful termination case weighed by California’s First Appellate District, Division Three, the question was whether employee had an implied employment contract that required good cause for termination, and if so, whether his employer, a gas company, did have good cause for his firing.  Continue reading

Recently – and not for the first time – Tesla has fired a large number of workers. In both its automotive branch and solar panel subsidiary, hundreds of Tesla employees were let go in what has been described as a “pink slip rampage.” Now, former employees are taking the company to task for its claims of unsatisfactory performance, which Tesla claimed was the basis for firing twelve hundred employees worldwide.California unemployment lawyers

What is Really Going on at Tesla?

According to Slate, there is a conflict between the company’s claims of unsatisfactory performance and employees’ claims that they were not privy to any performance reviews. Employees are claiming that the firings were actually mass layoffs, and that the company violated their rights under the WARN Act (California Labor Code Division 2, Part 4, Sections 1400-1408). Under the WARN Act, employers must give sixty days’ written notice of mass layoffs. The notice must be provided to both affected employees and local employment authorities. Tesla, in turn, claims that the positions will be backfilled, and the firings cannot, therefore, be layoffs. (Interestingly, Tesla did provide WARN notices to over two hundred employees at its Roseville, California worksite.) Tesla is facing other circumstances that call into question the timing of the terminations. It is currently experiencing significant delays in the release of its Model 3. Tesla is also in the midst of a merger with its solar panel subsidiary, Solar City, which investors approved in November 2016. Both of these conditions are likely to leave Tesla lacking in liquid assets for a time. Lawsuits have already been filed by terminated employees. It is now up to the California courts to determine the nature of the Tesla layoffs. Continue reading

Wrongful termination is a common claim by former employees, and a common source of liability for employers. Yet the specific circumstances in which wrongful termination laws apply can be confusing at best. Recently, the California Court of Appeals decided that an employer neither violated disability discrimination laws, nor otherwise wrongfully terminated an employee who sought to withdraw her voluntary resignation.wrongful termination attonreys

The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Ruth Featherstone was an employee of Southern California Permanente Medical Group when she returned from a medical leave of absence on December 16, 2013. On December 23, Featherstone resigned, telling her supervisor that “God had told her to do something else”. On December 31, Featherstone asked to rescind her resignation, claiming that she had been under the effects of medication at the time it was tendered. The employer declined.

Featherstone’s lawsuit against the medical group centered on California disability law, which protects an employee from any “adverse employment action” as a result of a disability. The Court ruled that Featherstone had the right to rescind her resignation until Permanente employees processed it. Once accepted, however, Permanente was under no obligation to allow her to rescind the resignation. Permanente was also under no continuing duty to accommodate Featherstone’s disability and purportedly altered mental state once it accepted her resignation. Continue reading