Many people in California would view an opportunity to work for a professional baseball team as a dream job. The dream was short-lived for a woman who accepted a job with the Mariners on Nov. 1, 2017, because the team officially dismissed her barely a year later on Nov. 15. She has now filed a lawsuit against the team seeking lost pay because of alleged wrongful termination motivated by gender and racial discrimination.
The concept of at-will employment has grown increasingly prevalent over time because it allows both employer and employee a great amount of freedom in regard to termination and quitting. At-will employment essentially means that a person can be fired from the job at any time without warning, reasoning or explanation. It also means that the worker can quit whenever he or she wants, without reason. In California, the idea of at-will employment is modified by the covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
If an employer in California attempts to head off discrimination complaints by insisting that an employee sign away the right to file a complaint, then the courts might view the act as anticipatory retaliation. The recent case of a former employee of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs illustrates the legal theory that describes the adverse action of an employer meant to prevent people from engaging in legal activities.
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.
California pro football fans may have heard of Erin Henderson. He was on the New York Jets roster until he was released in February after the team declined to pick up his option for 2017. The option would have been worth $2.25 million. Henderson claims that he was wrongfully terminated and was discriminated against because of a disability. In a lawsuit, he seeks $3.3 million in compensatory damages in addition to punitive damages.
California employees who are in fear of losing their jobs after reporting potential risks may be interested to learn that a former Amtrak employee was awarded a nearly $900,000 settlement in that type of a case. The agent had raised concerns in October 2010 about the work an Amtrak contractor was completing as the contractor had been convicted for fraud in New York.
On Jan. 6, it was reported that a California judge ordered the founder of Bikram yoga to turn over proceeds from his business to his former legal adviser. The adviser won a $6.8 million judgement against him last year after winning a wrongful termination and sexual harassment lawsuit in 2016.
Can an employer require me to work full-time even though I only agreed to part-time and have been working part-time since my employment began?
California employees who have valid grievances with their employers may feel pressure to quickly settle their cases for far less than they might receive through litigation. This often happens when there is a disparity between the financial abilities of the respective parties to handle the expense of a protracted courtroom battle. Litigation funding may provide an option that could help employees with strong cases to pursue their matters fully.
On May 16, a wrongful termination lawsuit was filed in a California court against the global CEO of RAPP. The Omnicom ad agency CEO, who joined the company in 2014, is accused of firing the former president of RAPP USA for complaining about harassment and discrimination that he witnessed.