Articles Tagged with wrongful termination attorney

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

In the context of employment law, a pretext is basically a false reason given for an adverse employment action, such as a demotion, loss of benefits or wrongful termination. For example, perhaps your employer tells you that you are being fired due to budget cuts, but in reality, you’re being let go in retaliation because you recently filed a complaint of sexual harassment or asked for a disability accommodation. manager

So how do we prove the employer’s actions were discriminatory? The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in the 1973 case of McDonnell-Douglas Corp. v. Green in which the court held that after plaintiff establishes a prima facie case of discrimination, the burden of proof then shifts to the employer to show that there was a legitimate, non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. It’s then up to the plaintiff to show reasons why the true reason for the action was pretextual. This kind of evidence is critical because in most cases, employers don’t explicitly state their discriminatory motivations.

Some of the ways we can prove pretext are:

  • False or implausible business justification. Essentially, if the reason given leaves you shaking your head and thinking, “That makes no sense,” it’s probably evidence of pretext.
  • Changing reasons. First, it was because you had too many absences. But then later, it was because you were allegedly caught stealing. These kinds of starkly different justifications may be evidence of pretext.
  • Comparative evidence. Other similarly situated employees who weren’t in your protected class were treated more favorably.
  • Questionable timing. If you file a complaint for sexual harassment and are fired in short order, that timing calls into question the action. Some courts have found that pretext on this basis may exist even after weeks have elapsed between the protected activity and adverse employment action.

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The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s office has agreed to pay $150,000 to settle the wrongful termination claim from an ex-employee who claimed whistleblower status after he asserted he was improperly fired and then defamed for recommending a top lieutenant be fired for reported sexual harassment. sad

Instead, Attorney General Kathleen Kane promoted the alleged harasser and fired the person who recommended his termination.

Now, this settlement brings the total amount paid out by Kane’s office to current and former employees for employment lawsuits to more than $586,000. There are also numerous employment lawsuits still pending for claims like slander, retaliation and wrongful termination.  Continue reading