Articles Posted in Wrongful Termination

When you are called upon by an investigator who has appeared at your workplace to investigate one or more of your co-workers, it can be a stressful time, even though you’re not the person under investigation. Being sought to answer questions or give testimony can be scary, especially if the knowledge you hold (and the investigators are asking for) is potentially harmful to your employer and/or your supervisor. Even if that’s true, you should be entitled to speak freely, openly and honestly, without fear of reprisals that could damage or end your employment just because you spoke the truth.

If you suffer a loss of your job simply because you cooperated with investigators’ investigation into your supervisor, then you may have a claim for wrongful termination in California. If that situation describes you, you should act without delay to reach out and retain an experienced Oakland employment law attorney to represent you.

The type of scenario described above actually happened to one state government worker recently. As reported by the Sacramento Bee, S.T. was a fraud investigator for a department within the state government when the State Auditor’s office opened an investigation into the department’s director. The director was suspected of engaging in improper hiring practices; specifically, nepotism in hiring her daughter and a friend.

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There are lots of reasons why you can be fired from your job. Possibly fewer are more frustrating that being terminated in retaliation simply because you exercised your legal rights, such as filing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. Of course, when an employer fires you simply because you filed for workers’ compensation, that employer has broken the law by wrongfully terminating you. That you may have known. What you may not know is… what do I do about it? What steps must I take and how quickly must I act? To get the answers you need to question like this and similar ones, be sure you talk to a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney about your situation.

A case that recently settled in Sacramento is an example of this type of scenario. M.C. worked as a program analyst for the City of Sacramento from 2011 to 2015. In 2015, she allegedly got hurt at work. As many people who suffer injuries on the job do, M.C. filed a claim seeking workers’ compensation benefits.

A few months after the analyst filed her workers’ compensation claim, the city placed her on a mandatory leave of absence. After that, the city fired the woman, alleging that the termination was the result of the analyst’s “misconduct” on the job. The woman sued and eventually was able to secure a settlement in which the city agreed to pay her $860,000 in exchange for her dropping her case, according to a Sacramento Bee report.

There are lots of good reasons why one might prefer to pursue litigation close to home. Having the case close by might mean lower costs and an opportunity to be more closely involved. It might mean getting a jury that’s more receptive to your arguments. It also might mean getting a judge more familiar with the legal issues you’re asserting (if the other option is to litigate out of state). Whether you’re a Californian or an out-of-stater, and whether you’re in California court because you prefer to litigate here or your employment contract forces you to, be sure your case is armed with the skill and knowledge of an experienced Oakland employment attorney.

Sometimes, litigating in a particular place is not by choice. As an example, take the case of J.N., an East Bay man working for an insurance claims services company. Although the employer was based in suburban Indianapolis, Indiana, J.N. worked in El Cerrito. The company terminated J.N.’s employment in late March, 2017. J.N. believed that he was the victim of illegal discrimination and sued in Contra Costa County, alleging wrongful termination along with several violations of the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

J.N., though, had a problem. The employment contract he signed with the company had what’s called a “forum selection clause.” That is something that says that, if there’s a dispute between you and your employer, you must litigate in one of the designated courts. J.N.’s forum selection clause stated he could only sue the employer in Hamilton County, Indiana, Marion County, Indiana or the federal court in Indianapolis.

Many people, when they hear the phrase “employment discrimination,” may associate those words with women, people of color, older workers, LGBTQ+ people or religious minorities. The reality is, however, that anyone can pursue a claim for discrimination in California if they can show that they suffered discrimination on the job on the basis of sex, race, national origin, religion, age, sexual orientation or gender identity. If you think you’ve been the target of illegal discrimination, act with all due speed to protect your rights. Contact a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney right away.

A case recently filed by an employee of a major package shipping company is an illustration in point. According to Patch.com, M.M. had worked for the company for 12 years. In 2017, his job duties included assigning driving duties to the employer’s delivery drivers serving Los Angeles County. Allegedly, a driver shortage led M.M. to assign extra work to the existing drivers, which angered P.F. According to M.M., the driver responded in several ways, including speaking in an insubordinate manner and making false allegation about M.M. to the employer’s human resources department. The alleged falsehoods included M.M. physically assaulting P.F.

According to M.M., the employer knew that the driver’s accusations were false, but the employer feared that P.F., who was Latino, would escalate claims of racism and file additional grievances or sue the employer. The employer also allegedly feared upsetting other Latino drivers, leading it to terminate M.M. in an effort to “appease” P.F. and the company’s other Latino employees, Patch.com reported.

No one wants to think about being wrongfully terminated from their job as a result of doing something that would otherwise be a joyous thing, such as having a baby Unfortunately, though, it does occur. When it happens, the law gives those harmed workers certain legal options. And, sometimes, depending on the facts of the case, the options available to the harmed worker may be even more extensive than one might think when it comes to the damages available. To make sure your wrongful termination case yields everything it should for you, have a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney on your side.

K.L., a teacher whose case was reported by NBC Los Angeles, was an employee who found herself in that position. K.L., a science teacher at a Catholic school in South Los Angeles, was seven months pregnant but was not married in the summer of 2012. The parish pastor, who oversaw the school, allegedly told the teacher that the teacher’s pregnancy outside of wedlock would “morally corrupt” the impressionable teenage students at the school, according to NBC Los Angeles. The pastor also allegedly referred to the teacher’s unborn child as “it,” even after the baby’s gender had been openly revealed.

The teacher complained to the school principal but, allegedly, was merely told to “pray,” with no other action being taken. Following the end of the 2012-13 school year, the school did not renew K.L.’s contract for the 2013-14 academic year. The school claimed that it decided not to renew K.L.’s contract due to performance problems she had in the classroom; specifically, a recurring problem with tardiness and several instances of taking phone calls during class.

California law provides various forms of protections for workers here. One area where those protections comes into play is retaliation against a worker for exercising her legal rights. There are many acts that a worker may do and the employer cannot punish the worker for it or, if they do, they are in violation of the law. One of these rights is availing yourself to the legal system to challenge your employer’s violation of employment laws, such as the Fair Employment and Housing Act. If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job in retaliation for exercising your rights, you should contact an experienced Oakland employment attorney about your situation.

A.Q. was a worker in a similar and unfortunate situation. She was an employee who worked at an Orange County restaurant and who sued after the employer allegedly failed to pay overtime wages in accordance with federal “wage and hour” laws, including the Fair Labor Standards Act. A.Q. won that lawsuit.

Along the way, though, the employer fired A.Q. This allowed the employee to pursue an additional claim against the employer–wrongful termination. The law forbids employers from firing employees in retaliation for exercising their constitutional right to pursue civil litigation in court. This kind of termination is illegal if the employee has proof that the exercise of a constitutional right (such as filing a FLSA lawsuit) triggered the firing, unless the employer can persuade the court that there was a different, valid and independent reason that was the actual basis for the termination.

Sometimes, when a party to a case wrongfully destroys an important piece of evidence, the other side may be entitled to seek, and obtain, a penalty from the party who caused the destruction. The remedy to which you may be entitled for the “spoliation” of evidence can vary depending on the facts. If the destruction of the evidence was due to negligence, the penalties would be less severe than if the destruction was intentional. In some cases, you may be able to obtain money sanctions, or you may be able to persuade the trial judge to give the jury a specific instruction that says that they, the jury, may make in their deliberations certain negative factual inferences against the party who destroyed the evidence. This might include such things as making an inference that the destroyed evidence was relevant and was harmful to the destroying side’s case.

When it comes to demanding evidence, discovering that evidence has been destroyed and seeking remedies for improperly destroyed evidence, there may be many procedural options available to you. The key is having a detailed understanding of the rules and the law. That means having a knowledgeable Oakland employment attorney on your side.

The Fresno Bee reported on the wrongful termination case of a restaurant manager in Fresno, which was an example of this type of scenario. J.O. was the general manager of a restaurant chain’s location near Fresno State University. The manager had been with the employer for more than a decade, receiving “outstanding performance reviews” along the way. In 2014 and 2015, things allegedly changed, however. The manager developed carpal tunnel syndrome in her wrist and filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits based upon the workplace injury to her wrist. After that, the employer’s upper management allegedly hatched a plot to retaliate against the manager for filing the workers’ comp claim, according to the report.

For many people, applying for a job is a relatively stressful process, and sometimes starting a new job can be, too. Imagine in the midst of these stresses being asked to sign a document written in a language you don’t read or speak. For some Spanish-speaking workers in California, that is what happens to them when they seek or start a new job. If you sign an agreement to arbitrate your employment disputes as part of the application or “new hire” processes that is written in a language you don’t understand, you may not be able to assert that that language barrier created a lack of mutual assent and therefore a lack of a valid contract. You may, however, have other avenues to assert that the foreign-language arbitration agreement you signed is not enforceable. If you find yourself in this type of scenario in your discrimination or wrongful termination lawsuit, you should be sure you have skilled California employment counsel representing you in your case.

The above general scenario is essentially what happened in M.M.’s case. M.M. had worked at a nursing home as a certified nursing assistant for five years when she filed a complaint against her employer. Among other things, the CNA alleged that her employer had engaged in disability discrimination and constructive wrongful termination. In response, the employer sought to take the dispute out of the courts and move it into an arbitration hearing. The employer argued that it was entitled to arbitration because it and the CNA had signed an agreement, as part of her employment application, agreeing to arbitrate all disputes that arose in relation to M.M.’s employment. M.M. also signed two subsequent documents in which she agreed to be bound by the employer’s “Alternative Dispute Resolution Policy,” which included arbitrating all employment disputes.

The CNA’s argument was that the agreement was not valid. Specifically, she asserted that she read and spoke Spanish, did not understand spoken or written English, and never received a copy of any of the arbitration agreement documents in Spanish. Because she allegedly never understood any of the arbitration agreement documents she signed, she argued that there was no “meeting of the minds” that is necessary for a valid and enforceable contract. She also argued that enforcing the agreement was unconscionable because the entity seeking to enforce the agreement did not sign the document. (The entity took over control of the operations at the facility where M.M. worked three years after she started in 2011).

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