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Utility worker gets $1.3 million for retaliatory discharge

A former utility worker has received $1.3 million in a California wrongful termination suit. The worker, who had been employed by SDG&E, claimed that he was a victim of retaliatory discharge after he revealed that the company was unfairly targeting households in the low-income category. Those clients were targeted because they provided additional money through fees related to delinquent bills.

News reports show that the man complained about the unfair practices. Lower-income populations in central San Diego were being targeted for the official delinquency notices, which can result in customers being charged $9 per notice. Those notices were hand-delivered only in low-income areas, according to courtroom documents.

The plaintiff in this case said he is pleased that the utility will be required to stop its discriminatory practices. He said that the wrongful termination claim was not simply because of the money; the man actually wanted to make a difference and blow the whistle on unethical activities. He said he is happy that the jury understood the implications of the utility company's alleged misdeeds. It appears that SDG&E intends to appeal the decision, claiming that the man lost his job after failing to comply with corporate policies.

Workers who have the courage to pursue filing a complaint against illegal activity should not be subject to retaliatory discharge. Those victims may be entitled to financial compensation and other damages, which could even include getting their jobs back. A California employment attorney may be able to assist these individuals with civil cases against unscrupulous employers, allowing victims to pursue wrongful termination claims and other complaints. Workers should not have to suffer financial hardship because of the illegal and unethical actions of their employers.

Source: KFMB 760, "Ex-SDG&E employee awarded $2.1M in lawsuit" No author given, Mar. 26, 2014

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