SPEAKING UP ABOUT ILLEGAL MATTERS SHOULDN’T COST YOU YOUR JOB

You know that your employer is doing something illegal. Now, you have to decide what you are going to do about that knowledge. You might be at a loss for what you are going to do because you don’t want to make your employer upset but you also don’t want the illegal activity to continue.

If you are worried about what your employer might do if you file a factual complaint about something illegal that is going on, you don’t have to worry too much. Even though California is an at-will employment state, employers can’t terminate your employment or take any retaliatory measures because of whistleblowing or filing complaints about illegal actions.

We understand that you might be nervous. If you already spoke up, you might wonder what you can do now. The answer to this is simple. If your employer took retaliatory measures, which can include demotions, terminations or more, you can take legal action to remedy the situation.

There are many things to consider when you are going to launch an action against an employer due to wrongful termination or retaliation. Both of these are forbidden actions that employers shouldn’t take against employees. Retaliation is likely going to be more difficult to spot because it can take many forms. Even transferring you to another shift could be considered retaliation.

Taking action against your employer isn’t something that you will likely do lightly. In the case of retaliation or wrongful termination, you might not have any other option. We can help you get your case started and work with you throughout the resolution of it.

2 WELLS FARGO EXECUTIVES ALLEGE THEY WERE WRONGFULLY TERMINATED

A husband and wife pair, both long term employees of Wells Fargo, filed a joint wrongful termination lawsuit in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday, August 31. In their lawsuit, the spouses acknowledge that their superiors have accused them of engaging in using unethical sales techniques prior to their firings. They, however, allege that their terminations came as a result of accusing their supervisors of impropriety.

The pair both were employed as regional presidents over Southern California branch operations at the time of their firings. The husband had worked for the bank since 2000 and his wife had since 1994. Their terminations happened in March, just a few weeks after some of their superiors had been fired by the company for setting up sham accounts.

The husband and wife duo allege that they both repeatedly reported cases in which their superiors encouraged their employees to open bogus accounts, but that those concerns went unaddressed. In fact, they argue that they were fired as a way to appear proactive in the eyes of the board of directors, federal regulators, and the general public about the increasingly problematic issue of sham accounts.

The pair argues that right before their hiring, the bank’s leadership took and promoted many of the executives who had engaged in the wrongdoing. They noted that it was the whistleblowing employees that the organization seemed to be most interested in terminating.

As for Wells Fargo, they have issued a statement in which they contend that they didn’t fire the pair out of retaliation. Instead, they argue that they fired the pair for both lawful and legitimate reasons.

The couple is requesting damages as high as $50 million on the grounds that they lost job prospects and money after their firings. They note that they’ve been dealing with intense anxiety, depression, and distress as well.

If you suspect that you have been unlawfully discharged from your job role, then you should consult an experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney to advise you of your right to file a lawsuit.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “Former Wells Fargo executives say they were scapegoated for accounts scandal,” James Rufus Koren, Sep. 01, 2017

DID YOUR EMPLOYER HAVE THE RIGHT TO FIRE YOU?

If you’ve recently been fired, you may be wondering if your employer really had the right to do so — especially if the reason seemed unfair or outright ridiculous.

The reality is that most employees in the country are considered “at-will” employees. That essentially means that they can walk away from a job whenever, for any reason. It also means that their employer can usually fire them whenever, for any reason.

That reason just can’t be something that violates the law. If it does, that’s considered wrongful termination.

Here’s essentially how it works:

Your employer cannot fire you because he or she doesn’t like the color of the car that you drive, doesn’t agree with your political ideology or doesn’t like your new tattoos.

He or she cannot fire you for belonging to any class or group of people that are protected under any local, state or federal laws. Protected classes include (but may not be limited to) gender, religion, race, national origin and sexual orientation.

Your employer also cannot fire you if the termination would somehow violate the public interest. For example, you can’t be fired in retaliation for asking for reasonable accommodation under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), filing for workers’ compensation, filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) about discriminatory treatment or refusing to do something illegal at his or her employer’s request.

Finally, you may have some protection from having your job abruptly terminated for no good reason under either an implied contract or good faith exception.

Implied contracts exist when an employer makes promises to his or her employees that basically ensure job security as long as a certain standard of behavior is maintained. Something as simple as a manual that outlines the company’s disciplinary policy for infractions may create that implied contract. An employer then has to follow his or her own rules before you can be fired.

California is one of the few states to recognize “good faith” as a factor between employees and employers. It essentially looks at the overall sense of fairness in the firing — asking questions about whether or not the firing was justified given the employee’s work history, prior performance reviews and the employer’s own policies. It is quite similar to implied contracts.

If you believe your employer violated the law by firing you, let a a wrongful termination attorney provide guidance.

Source: FindLaw, “At-Will Employment and Wrongful Termination,” accessed Sep. 15, 2017

UNDERSTAND WHEN TERMINATION IS ILLEGAL

Your ability to keep your job depends on how well you do your job. All employers have rules and guidelines that must be followed if you want to keep on working there. If you don’t follow those, you will be terminated. If you are terminated for failing to do your job properly, there likely isn’t anything you can do about the termination.

We know that losing a job is something that is disheartening. It can often lead to fear about what is to come. If you think that you were terminated in violation of the law, such as for reporting sexual harassment, we can help you learn about the legal options that you have to deal with the wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination is often a retaliatory measure that employers will use when an employee files a complaint about something or blows the whistle on something. Doing this is illegal since employers can’t legally retaliate against employees who do these things. This is why it is important for you to keep track of what happens from the time that you file a complaint or make it known what is going on in the business.

It is important to carefully consider the circumstances around your termination. If you know that you were doing a good job and don’t know of any disciplinary measures taken against you, then you were likely terminated wrongfully. If you did let your performance slack off just prior to the termination, even if it was just after you filed a complaint, there is a good chance that the termination was legal.

ROCKER AND DRUMMER IN HEATED LEGAL BATTLE WITH EACH OTHER

While you can be terminated for almost any reason under the sun, there are a few reasons that are illegal to use as the basis for termination. You can’t be fired because of your age, gender or several other protected statuses. If you are, you might opt to take legal action.

Rocker Eddie Money is learning about some of these points thanks to a lawsuit from Glenn Symmonds, who is his former drummer. The lawsuit has a host of allegations in the original filing. These include claims of wrongful termination. It also contains an amended complaint by Symmonds’ wife claiming sexual harassment.

Money has filed an appeal in the matter because he claims that artists should have the right to decide who plays in the bands that are behind the scenes. One motion was an anti-SLAPP motion, which has to do with claims that certain points were within the person’s First Amendment rights.

The lawsuit also includes accusations of discrimination. Symmonds claims that Money humiliated him because of his disabilities that stem from a back injury and bladder cancer. Money’s side of the case is denying all of the accusations.

The appeal that was filed is being called a ploy to delay the case. The rocker was successful with a petition to limit what information out of his and his wife’s depositions is made public. Excerpts that have already been included in the case will remain public. As it stands, the case will head to trial in November. It will be interesting to keep an eye on this case as it moves forward.

Source: Billboard, “Eddie Money Appeals Ruling On Motion to Dismiss Claims By Former Drummer As Case Hurtles Toward Trial,” Hannah Karp, July 07, 2017

WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASES CAN INVOLVE COMPLEX CONCEPTS

Losing a job is something that can have negative impacts on the person who is terminated. When the termination is a wrongful termination, the person might opt to pursue legal action against the employer. This is something that can be difficult to prove; however, we know that it isn’t impossible when the case involves a termination that falls under the legal umbrella of wrongful termination.

One case recently that made the news recently shows how complex wrongful termination cases can be. This case involves the Electric Utilities Department in Roseville. A former employee alleges discrimination, harassment and wrongful termination and has filed a lawsuit regarding her claims. In this case, the woman alleges that the actions by the employer were due to a spinal tumor that she developed while she worked for the department. The city says that the termination was lawful because the woman was still in her probationary period and could be let go without any reason for the action.

This case involved allegations of harassment due to a disability, but the employer is claiming that the termination was lawful, even with that harassment present. This type of case is one reason why employees should work to find out about the laws that apply to their employment. If you don’t know the laws, you won’t know when you need to speak up about something.

We know that you might be ready to take action over the firing. We can evaluate your case and help you determine the actions that you can take. From there, we can help you to develop a plan and work through the process.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT REVERSED IN WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE

A woman who was employed as the manager at Barnes & Noble located on the campus of the West Valley-Mission Community College in Saratoga from 2002 to 2010, has was determined to have been wrongfully terminated. She worked before that for the company for another 15 years in various jobs.

She was given a copy of the code of conduct and ethics for the company that listed her employment as “at-will.” She acknowledged receipt of the code of conduct in 1999 and she had signed off on it. She was never promised an employee contract or tenure.

The woman received performance reviews each year that said she lacked organizational skills and communication skills. The dates of the reviews specifically citing this were from 2001 to 2008. Total scores on her reviews showed that she had met the “applicable standards and met or exceeded standards in most individual categories.” However, in 2009, her book store had an excess inventory worth $66,000, which got her a below standard rating for the category of fiscal matters.

The woman tried to argue that she was dealing with discrimination with the college’s liaison. Eventually, in 2010, the college president and the liaison got in touch with the woman’s supervisor and said that “[the] plaintiff was not a good fit for the campus.” She filed a complaint against Barnes & Noble in 2012. The complaint also included the college and the college president.

In 2013, the company asked for a summary judgment, telling the court that the woman “was an at-will employee who was terminated for legitimate business reasons.” The woman said she was fired due to gender discrimination because the company did not protect her from the liaison’s sexual harassment.

The appeals court said that neither the plaintiff nor the defendants were favored by the definition of “at-will” employment.” As a result, the woman’s testimony should be heard at trial. The summary judgment was reversed.

Those who believe they have been terminated due to discrimination of protected classhave a right to seek compensation after filing a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. An attorney can help you learn more about the options that are available to fight such a claim.

Source: Northern California Record, “Wrongful termination lawsuit against Barnes & Noble moves forward,” Angela Underwood, May 01, 2017

HOW DO I KNOW IF I WAS WRONGFULLY TERMINATED FROM A JOB?

Being let go from a job is a difficult experience, especially when the termination comes as a surprise. You might wonder if you have a case for wrongful termination. This is a question that can be complex to answer.

Before you decide that you are going to take legal action, you should take the time to familiarize with some basic points related to wrongful termination.

What, exactly, is wrongful termination?

Wrongful termination occurs when you are fired from a job for an illegal reason. The “illegal reason” component is the key to this type of issue. Employers have the right to fire employees for no reason, but when the reason is covered under certain laws, you might have a legal case.

What are some examples of wrongful termination?

One example of a wrongful termination is a retaliatory firing. This situation occurs if you make a complaint about something that is going on in the business, such as a sexual harassment complaint, and you are fired because of that complaint. Another example would be if you are fired because of a protected status, such as being a specific faith, gender or race.

Proving wrongful termination is often difficult, but it isn’t impossible. You can often look into the circumstances just prior to the termination to determine what you should do. For example, if you have always gotten great evaluations and then are fired shortly after you filed a complaint about a manager making an inappropriate remark, you may have a case for wrongful termination. Carefully consider the options that you have for handling your case.

Source: FindLaw, “Was I Wrongfully Discharged From My Job?,” accessed April 21, 2017

IF YOU WITNESS WRONGDOING AT WORK, DO YOU HAVE TO TESTIFY?

There are times when something happens at work and all anybody wants to do is to stay as far removed from the whole mess and hope it goes away.

Unfortunately, if you’re a witness to some sort of misconduct that ends up in litigation, you can end up being called on to testify. Depending on who engaged in the misconduct and who calls on you, you may be asked to testify against a current or former co-worker (who may also be a friend) or against your employer. Neither may sound like a comfortable situation—but do you have any choice?

Probably not. If you’re called on in a case by your employer to testify in a hearing before a disciplinary committee or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to determine if there was a valid, non-discriminatory reason for disciplining or firing an employee, you have an obligation to assist your employer in the effective running of the business.

If you refuse, you could be justifiably charged with insubordination and disciplined or fired yourself. That could leave you in a position that you can’t easily overcome because the employer would be justified.

If another employee calls on you to testify and you’re not in a court setting, you may not be legally required to testify—but that may just be delaying the inevitable. Consider this; if the employee loses his or her case outside of the court only because you don’t testify, the next step will probably be to take the litigation into the courtroom where you’ll be summoned through a subpoena.

Once that happens, there are very few legal justifications that will stop the court from forcing you to testify.

Your best option if either side calls you is to testify to what you saw or know as truthfully as possible to the best of your recollection. If your employer takes issue with your testimony and discharges you in retaliation on some pretext that you know is a smokescreen for their anger, you may have to contact an attorney for yourself about a wrongful termination claim.

Source: FindLaw, “May the Court Force Me to Testify?,” accessed Feb. 17, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR PREGNANCY: YOU’RE FIRED!

Most California employers understand that overall productivity and profitability in the workplace tends to soar when workers are in safe environments, offered competitive wages and treated fairly in the workplace. Still, plenty of workers suffer from adverse events every year, including wrongful terminations, bullying and multiple forms of discrimination by their employers.

While certain topics pertain to men and women alike, some seem to affect one group more than the other. For instance, can you imagine being a woman who excitedly shares news at work that you are expecting a baby? Many people smile and share in your joy, including your boss, who shakes your hand in congratulations. Next thing you know, you’re in your boss’s office and you are unjustifiably, permanently relieved of your duties.

Is that legal?

A justifiable termination from your work position while pregnant is obviously possible, so long as your boss hasn’t broken any laws in doing so. However, firing you because you’re pregnant is definitely against the law.

How to protect your rights

With the roller-coaster economy of recent years, you may be like millions of others across the nation who greatly depend on every cent of their incomes to make ends meet. Unexpectedly losing your job could place you and your family at risk for financial disaster. It’s bad enough losing a job under any circumstances, much less when you know your boss did something illegal. Taking the following steps may help rectify the situation:

  • Seek clarification: There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking your boss to clarify his or her reasons for firing you.
  • Resist urge to retaliate: Yelling at your boss, writing a nasty letter or otherwise acting negatively toward him or her will likely only make your situation worse. It is best to avoid retaliation.
  • Call a lawyer: Experienced employment attorneys address these types of situations often. Generally speaking, immediately reaching out for support often proves beneficial in the long run.

Having a baby is typically an exciting, joyful experience, not grounds for termination of employment. It’s understandable that wrongfully losing your job would cause tremendous emotional upset in addition to any financial hardship you suffer in the process. While there is a way to right such situations, it is often complicated and stressful. Many others who have been where you are now have allowed experienced California attorneys to act on their behalves in court, not only to alleviate stress but to obtain as swift and positive of outcomes as possible.