Articles Tagged with wrongful termination

When it comes to California employment discrimination lawsuits alleging wrongful termination, a common defense is the “mixed motive.” That is, even where discrimination is a deemed a substantial motivating factor in firing someone, employers cans still effectively defend themselves if they can successfully argue the outcome would have been the same absent any such discrimination. In that situation, as it was in the 2013 case of Wynona Harris v. City of Santa Monica, employees may not be entitled to damages, back pay, or an order of restatement (often the primary relief many seek), though they may still be entitled to injunctive and declaratory relief, as well as compensation for reasonable attorneys’ fees and costs. racial discrimination

The high proof burdens in these employment law cases are one of the primary reasons we urge anyone considering a  claim for discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and/or retaliation, will work only with a highly experienced and skilled Los Angeles employment attorney with a track record of success in similar cases.

Recently, a similar case arose from an allegation of racial discrimination by a former scientist with the UCLA Medical Center. She alleged on-the-job, race-based harassment – which she did prove. In fact, jurors had previously awarded her $1.5 million in damages. However, in a review by a California Court of Appeals, the panel held that because the plaintiff was fired for legitimate reasons (notwithstanding race discrimination as a substantial motivating factor), the claimant’s damage award was reduced by more than $275,000.

As our L.A. racial discrimination lawyers can explain, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) holds that discrimination, retaliation, and harassment are separate wrongs, even if for the employee, it all appears connected. Each element of unlawful conduct has its own remedy. In the UCLA case, Birden v. The Regents of the University of California, the court held, a damage award for racial discrimination is only justified if that harassment ended with the employee losing his or her job. Continue Reading ›

Getting fired is never fun. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s illegal. As our L.A. employment attorneys can explain, certain elements need to exist in order to prove your termination was illegal, as opposed to just unpleasant. Los Angeles wrongful discrimination lawyer

Let’s start by explaining just broadly that a mix of federal and California laws prohibit employers from firing workers for a number of specific reasons, including disability, age (if over 40), use of family or medical leave, gender, pregnancy, sexual orientation, race or religion. Laws like the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA), the Americans With Disabilities Act, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, Title VII and others are designed to protect workers from being fired on the basis of things that are mostly beyond their control. Other provisions of law are designed to protect workers who are whistleblowers or who file complaints for things like sexual harassment, discrimination or other wrongdoing.

What can complicate some would-be wrongful termination claims is the fact that California (like most other states) practices something called at-will employment. This means that employers are allowed to take adverse employment action (cut pay, reduce paid time off, end benefits or even fire workers) at any time and for any reason – except one that is illegal. At the same time, employees are generally free to quit anytime they want without incurring any legal liability.

If you aren’t sure whether your firing was lawful, it’s best to share your concerns in confidence with an experienced wrongful termination lawyer who can explain how the law may be applicable in your case. That said, here are some examples of when your firing may be unlawful. Continue Reading ›

Wrongful termination in California goes beyond a firing that some think was unjustified. As our Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys can explain, it refers to an employment agreement that’s ended by the employer in violation of the worker’s legal rights. It means that the reason for one’s firing was because of discriminatory reasons, in violation of the employment contract or in retaliation for the employee exercising his or her legal rights.

It’s important to point out that California is an at-will state, so companies can fire employees for any time without cause, reason or advance notice. In order for one’s firing to be considered wrongful termination, former employees need to show it was due to reasons expressly prohibited by state or federal law. Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney

The laws most commonly cited in wrongful termination cases include:

Continue Reading ›

An employee of One America News Network was awarded $1.1 million in his California retaliation claim. Of that, $810,000 was in punitive damages, awarded for egregious conduct. He alleged the company had harassed and discriminated against him for his race. But while the San Diego jury did not find merit with this claim, they did hold that the producer was retaliated against for filing the complaint. workplace retaliation

Los Angeles employment attorneys highlight this case because it underscores the fact that retaliation can stand on its own in claims of wrongful termination.

California Workplace Retaliation Laws

California has numerous workplace retaliation laws that protect workers from wrongful termination and other adverse employment actions when they engage in certain protected activity. Protected actions could include: Continue Reading ›

California may see an increase in workplace retaliation claims since Assembly Bill 749 , which bans no-rehire clauses with limited exception in employment dispute settlements, was enacted this month. Los Angeles employment attorney

Prior to the passage of this bill, it was common practice for companies to settle discrimination or harassment claims with employees with a settlement that included a no-rehire clause. These provisions can vary in scope, but usually indicated that any future application for employment by that person wouldn’t be considered, and if the worker was hired by chance, he or she would be terminated automatically.

The California Chamber of Commerce had argued the law wasn’t necessary because there were already existing laws against overly-broad no-rehire clauses (specifically, Business and Professional Code section 16600).

The new law, codified in the California Code of Civil Procedure section 1002.5, indicates that no agreement to settle an employment dispute should contain any provision that prohibits, prevents or otherwise restricts an aggrieved person who is settling from obtaining future employment with that employer or any parent company, division, affiliate, subsidiary or contractor. Companies can include no-rehire provisions in cases where the company made a good faith determination that the person signing committed sexual harassment or sexual assault OR where there was a legitimate (i.e., non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory) reason for firing that person. There is also an exclusion for severance agreements. Continue Reading ›

Sometimes the terms “wrongful termination” and “retaliation” are tossed around in the context of employment lawsuits, but there is often a fundamental misunderstanding of what these mean in legal terms. wrongful termination Los Angeles

What they do not mean is simply “unfair” actions by an employer. California is an at-will employment state, meaning employers can fire you for any reason at any time – with or without cause. The employer doesn’t need a “good reason.” However, there are exceptions – primarily as outlined in the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for an impermissible or unlawful reason. There are a long list of exceptions to the at-will employment rule, and they include termination based on things like gender, race, nationality, religion, pregnancy, age, disability/medical condition and sexual orientation. It can also include termination for filing complaints about workplace health and safety or employee injuries.

Wrongful termination can be a form of retaliation, which occur when adverse action is taken against an employee for reporting a company’s violation state Labor Code and other laws. Continue Reading ›

Independent contractors are entitled to far fewer rights under California employment law than employees or in some cases even job applicants. In filing an employment lawsuit against a company, one must establish they are an employee or prospective employee.employee misclassification Los Angeles

But as our Los Angeles employment attorneys know well, misclassification of employees as independent contractors is rampant. It’s often left to the court’s to decide.

Recently, a California appellate court ordered a new trial in the case of a worker who was technically a temp agency employee, but who took on a supervisory position for five years at the shoe care manufacturing company with which the temp agency contracted. Although the temp agency cut her checks, it was the manufacturer that had the direction and control of her day-to-day work. This, the court ruled, made her an employee for purposes of relief for alleged discrimination and wrongful termination under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Independent Contractor v. Employee

There is no set definition of the term “independent contractor,” which is why courts and enforcement agencies are often asked to consider the fact pattern of each case where employment status is a possible issue. The Division of Labor Standards Enforcement begins with the presumption that a worker is an employee, but it is one that can be rebutted by the employer. Continue Reading ›

A California State University professor was wrongly denied a promotion to an associate professorship and lifetime tenure as a result of retaliation for reporting a hostile work environment to women and people of color. That was the finding of California’s First Appellate District, Division Three, which affirmed the trial court’s damage award of more than $965,000 in damages, plus attorney’s fees. employment retaliation

The professor had also claimed discrimination, but the court found no liability on that particular claim.

The appellate court rejected the university’s argument that plaintiff needed to show that she was clearly superior to a comparative professor who was granted tenure, but who had not filed a complaint.

As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, workers are protected from discrimination and retaliation under a series of California Labor Code provisions, overseen by the California Department of Industrial Relations. Continue Reading ›

Filing a California employment lawsuit is a big decision – one that can be rewarding in more ways than one. However, it’s important to understand that not all termination of employment actions are illegal just because they seemed unfair. wrongful termination lawyer

As our Orange County employment attorneys can explain, these claims must stem specifically from violations of:

  • Federal anti-discrimination laws
  • State anti-discrimination laws
  • Labor laws (including whistleblower protections)
  • Employment contracts
  • Retaliation (for claims of things like discrimination, harassment or workers’ compensation)
  • WARN Act violations (mass layoff cases)

In other words, unfair doesn’t always mean wrongful, at least legally speaking. Continue Reading ›

Medical marijuana worker protections aren’t guaranteed in California – but they are growing nationally, and workplaces should take note. California became the first state to permit use of the drug for medicinal purposes and 33 states plus Washington D.C. have followed suit, with 10 (including California, plus D.C.) have permitted use of the drug recreationally. However, as Los Angeles employment attorneys can explain, none of that guarantees a worker’s job will be safe if they use marijuana – even if it’s done recreationally and off-the-job. employee attorney Los Angeles

Companies need to start paying close attention to these cases, as there is an increased likelihood California employees with medical marijuana cards will enjoy increasing workplace protections. This amid a 2018 Pew Research Center Poll finding 62 percent of Americans favor legalization of marijuana, double the number who answered in the affirmative in 2000.

It used to be that courts largely rejected California wrongful termination lawsuits relating to medical marijuana use by employees. But then two years ago, a state court in Rhode Island ruled that a manufacturing company was not allowed to refuse hiring of a paid intern who used medical marijuana in accordance with state law just because she would test positive for the drug.  Continue Reading ›

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