California Supreme Court Rules Employee Allowed to Demand a Jury Trial for Wrongful Termination Claim

Your employment litigation case will contain many important decisions your legal team and you will have to make. In some cases, you will need to decide whether or not to demand a jury trial. In a recent ruling, the California Supreme Court announced that an employee asserting a common law wrongful termination claim could demand a jury trial for that claim.

The case arose from the alleged acts of whistleblowing carried out by an employee of a transitional care hospital. The employee’s complaints centered on several actions taken by the employer that allegedly harmed patient care quality, like hiring health care professionals who had not obtained the proper licensure or certification, or who “had not properly completed their competencies.”

According to the employee, that reporting led to her suffering several negative consequences at work, ultimately ending with her termination. The employee sued, asserting a claim for wrongful termination (in addition to a statutory claim related to her whistleblowing). The employee made a demand that her trial be held before a jury. The employer argued that the claims the employee made did not permit her to demand a jury trial. The trial judge agreed with her employer.

The issue of the employee’s right to demand a jury trial became the source of her appeal. In the appeal, there were two equally important items that the Supreme Court had to decide. One was when a plaintiff can appeal a denial of a jury trial, and the second was whether or not this plaintiff was entitled to a jury trial in this case but not on the statutory claim.

The question of timing is important for many harmed employees who sue. Many injured employees and their legal counsel may decide, for various reasons, that a jury trial gives them a better chance of achieving success. If the law didn’t allow for immediate appeals of denials of jury trials, that result could unfairly force plaintiffs to go through an entire bench trial and then, if the plaintiff loses, appeal the denial and then, if successful on appeal, go through a whole new trial a second time to get the jury trial that she originally demanded. Even if the plaintiff is entitled to a jury trial, such a system may harm her case by eroding valuable time, money, and other of the plaintiff’s limited resources.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court concluded that the law does not force a plaintiff to wait until the end of a bench trial to appeal a denial of a jury trial. This will help injured employees significantly in cases in which the right to a jury trial is in dispute. Additionally, the Supreme Court upheld the Court of Appeal’s ruling that declared that this employee was entitled to demand a jury trial on her common law wrongful termination claim.

For clear advice and skilled representation regarding your wrongful termination case, contact the knowledgeable Oakland employment attorneys at the Law Offices of Stephen M. Fuerch. We have been working for many years to help employees who have lost their employment due to unfair and illegal conduct. For more information regarding how this office can help you, contact us through our website or call our office at (925) 463-2575 to schedule your confidential initial consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

California Appeals Court Revives Producer’s Wrongful Termination Case Against CNN, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Jan. 12, 2017

Appeals Court Revives Wrongful Termination Case Brought by California Worker Fired After Suffering Workplace Injury, Oakland Personal Injury Attorney Blog, Feb. 15, 2016

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