Articles Tagged with wrongful termination

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

A health care worker was recently awarded more than $1 million for California disability employment discrimination after she alleged a work injury led to her firing after her employer refused her reasonable accommodation.Riverside employment disability discrimination attorney

Our Riverside disability employment discrimination attorneys have dealt with many cases of disability discrimination stemming from an employer’s failure to provide reasonable accommodation, as outlined by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. What this law means is if you have a physical or mental disability – work related or otherwise – your employer (or any employer with more than four employees) must provide reasonable accommodations for you to apply for or perform the essential function of your job, “unless it would cause an undue hardship.”

What is an “Undue Hardship” in California Employment Litigation?

As outlined in the the 2105 decision by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California in US EEOC v. Placer ARC, in order for an accommodation to be an “undue hardship,” an accommodation needs to be proven by the defense to be unduly disruptive, substantial and extensive. It need not necessarily break the company financially, but it would a defendant employer would need to show it was enough to impact the basic operational flexibility. Continue reading

Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers know there are many reasons employers seek to shed workers they view as problematic. California is an at-will state when it comes to employment, meaning barring an employment contract stating otherwise, an employee can quite or be fired for almost any reason. However, when employers take adverse employment action against workers for prejudice despite protected status or for engaging in certain protected activity, this can be legally actionable in an employment lawsuit. Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer

One of those protected activities is filing a claim for workers’ compensation. If you are hurt or become sick because of an incident or some condition at work, you don’t have the option of suing your employer. Instead, the exclusive remedy to which you have access is workers’ compensation, which allows for no-fault benefits, such as coverage of medical expenses, lost wages and work training. If an employer retaliates against you for filing a workers’ compensation claim by firing you, this is a form of wrongful termination.

This is what allegedly happened to a worker in Fresno. The case, as reported by The Fresno Bee, is somewhat unique for the steps allegedly taken by the employer in order to justify the reportedly unlawful action of California wrongful termination. It is for this reason jurors justified an $8 million damage award after siding with plaintiff in this case.

Plaintiff Wrongly Accused, Wrongly Terminated in California, Fights Back Continue reading

The experience of being “fired,” “terminated” or “let go” from a job can be debasing, infuriating and depressing. Disagreement on the reasons for termination or fairness aren’t uncommon, and some may even justly feel a fair amount of resentment. But that alone isn’t enough to establish that such employment action amounted to “wrongful termination.” Los Angeles employment lawyers can explain that in fact, most employees in the state of California can be fired for any reason and it doesn’t have to be fair. However, workers should not be under the false impression that they have no legal protection from firing in all instances.Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer

Most employment arrangements in California fall into the “at-will” category. There is no labor contract, and usually, employers don’t need to have a good reason to fire someone. However, what employers cannot do is fire someone in violation of state and federal anti-discrimination laws, specifying protection based on:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Political Affiliation
  • Religion
  • Physical or mental disability
  • National origin
  • Pregnancy

If the decision to fire someone was based – even in part – on any of these factors, it may be considered wrongful termination, with the employee entitled to just compensation. So even if there were many other reasons for why a person was fired, if any one of these was more than a trivial factor, it could amount to wrongful termination.

A wrongful termination claim can also arise if an employee is targeted because he or she exercised rights granted by the law. For instance, the federal Family and Medical leave Act (FMLA) which guarantees three months’ job protection for employees who take a leave of absence for birth, adoption or serious illness. If a worker is fired because he or she availed themselves of this leave, that would be grounds to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. 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