A jury in California awarded a man roughly $18 million in damages after finding that he had been wrongfully terminated. The 55-year-old had worked for Allstate Insurance for 30 years when he was let go months after being taken into custody by police. The incident occurred when his girlfriend wouldn’t allow him to enter her home during a domestic dispute. He was originally charged with two counts of domestic violence as well as one count of drug paraphernalia possession.
However, two of the charges were dropped in January 2015 while the other was dropped later in the year. The company investigated the matter and determined in February 2016 that he had not violated any policies. After receiving a request from the man’s former girlfriend for another investigation into the matter, he was terminated in the late spring of 2016.
The company claimed that the termination was related to its culture of care toward employees and customers. It also said that the man was an at-will employee who understood that he could be fired for engaging in threatening behavior. The company said that it disagreed with the verdict in the case and would appeal. Of the roughly $18 million the man was awarded, $2.6 million was for actual damages while the rest was in the form of punitive damages.
While an at-will employee may be terminated for a variety of reasons, companies must still abide by state or federal employment law while doing so. Those who believe that they were let go improperly by their employers may benefit from consulting with an attorney in order to see what rights they may have.