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Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Law Blog

Workers owed unpaid overtime have legal protections

When an employer has taken unfair and perhaps illegal actions to avoid paying an employee, it can have a significant impact on workers and their families. Detrimental impacts on their livelihoods can create suffering for workers if they are incorrectly classified or are victims of unpaid overtime. When workers put in extra overtime hours at work, they understandably expect to receive overtime pay.

When overtime becomes expected, and goes unpaid, it can lead to harm to workers and their families.

What is sexual harassment in a California workplace?

Federal and California laws protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, or sexual conduct which interferes with the victim's job performance or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.

In general, there are two types of sexual harassment: the creation of a hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person in authority requires subordinates to endure sexual harassment, or submit to unwanted sexual advances, as a condition of keeping their job and keeping or obtaining a job benefit, including raises and promotions. A single instance of quid pro quo harassment may be actionable, while hostile work environment sexual harassment is based on a pattern of offensive behavior.

Woman brings wrongful termination lawsuit in Los Angeles

Workers have important protections against wrongful termination so it is important to understand them. A wrongful termination lawsuit was recently heard in a Los Angeles courtroom. The CEO of a local rehabilitation center testified that he terminated the center's former human resources director because she did not perform up to expectations, and not because she had reported alleged workplace violations. The woman brought a wrongful termination claim alleging retaliation, as well as age and disability discrimination.

According to the CEO, the former human resources director failed to follow his instructions to meet with the managers of other centers following her hiring, and also failed to assist with recruiting and to put the time necessary into the department to get it off the ground. He further noted she did not meet expectations. In addition, there were conflicting accounts of how the death of a patient at the center was handled.

American Airlines faces overtime class action lawsuit

The State of California has enacted laws intended to ensure that all wage-earning employees receive paid overtime if they work more than 40 hours in a week or 8 hours in a day. A lawsuit has been filed by workers at Los Angeles International Airport against American Airlines alleging numerous violations of these laws.

The lawsuit has been started by three female American Airlines employees who claim to represent other AA employees who are suffering similar violations of the wage and hour laws. The plaintiffs allege that they were assigned to jobs that, based upon the duties they performed, should have been subject to the mandatory overtime provisions of the state Labor Code. The three women allege that they were wrongfully classified as managerial employees and treated as being exempt from the mandatory overtime rules. The claims alleged include failing to pay minimum wage, failing to pay overtime, and failing to reimburse the worker for necessary expenses related to their employment.

Tennis commentator files wrongful termination suit against ESPN

In today's age, "going viral" is often a goal some people in Los Angeles who are seeking Internet fame only dream of. However, not all statements that "go viral" do so for positive reasons. In fact, it takes only one misinterpretation of a person's remarks to have an otherwise upstanding person's reputation tarnished through no fault of their own.

Doug Adler, a tennis commentator on the popular television sports network ESPN, has sued the network for wrongful termination. In January, the network let Adler go without warning after a comment he made regarding tennis superstar Venus Williams. Adler claims the network's treatment of him was bad and unfair. He had been working as a broadcaster for 15 years prior to being fired.

Gun sale dispute prompts manager to claim wrongful termination

Wrongful discharge lawsuits typically originate as a dispute between the employer and an employee who differs with one or more of the employer's policies. A wrongful termination lawsuit recently filed in Los Angeles provides something of an exception to this rule because it originated in a dispute between a store manager and a would-be customer.

The store in question was a sporting goods chain store in Downey that sold guns and rifles. The problem began when a middle-aged man wanted to purchase a firearm. The man passed the store's safety test, but, as the store manager was completing the paper work, the man became irritated and ran into the store's restricted area. He then retrieved his credit card and left the store.

AMPAS sued for terminating disabled employee

The term "wrongful termination" encompasses a wide variety of illegal decisions by employers to fire their employees. One of the most egregious examples of wrongful termination is the decision by an employer to discharge an employee who is struggling with or recovering from a serious illness or injury. A recent lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court by a former employee of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences provides a powerful example of such wrongful conduct.

In 2016, the employee, a manager of human resources for the Academy, was stricken with a large malignant tumor between his lungs and heart. After the tumor was discovered, the manager underwent a staggering course of medical treatment: seven rounds of chemotherapy, three heart attacks, open heart surgery, implantation of a stent and 45 days in quarantine. The employee was allowed to work at home while he was undergoing treatment. The employee then elected to take disability leave.

Sexual harassment rampant in cocktail industry

As most readers of this blog know, California has strict laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. One industry, however, seems to overlook these prohibitions on a regular basis. As 2016 came to a close, a number of men and women went public with tales of sexual harassment in what is broadly known as the hospitality industry, i.e., hotels, restaurants and bars.

The first outpouring of this news was a website called The Reality of Sexual Assault in the Cocktail Community. Fifteen women posted their personal stories of sexual assault by their superiors and co-workers. Some of the assaults were only verbal descriptions of sexual encounters, but some women encountered physical abuse, such as unwanted kisses and fondling. More women gradually added their accounts to the existing posts.

Anatomy of a wrongful termination claim in California

Claims for wrongful termination of employment are common in the courts of Southern California, but many people think that most employees cannot bring such claims because they are employees at will; that is, they may be fired at any time for no reason. While this view is generally correct, California courts have carved out an important exception: discharges based on actions that are violations of public policy.

To prevail in a wrongful termination case, an employee-at-will must prove the following facts by a preponderance of the evidence:

  • The existence of an employment relationship with the defendant.
  • The circumstances that constituted the discharge.
  • The employee refused to take an action that would have violated public policy and this refusal was a substantial motivating factor for the discharge.
  • The discharge caused harm to the plaintiff.

Ex-Snapchat employee sues for wrongful termination

Wrongful termination lawsuits usually begin with an unhappy employee who has complained about improper treatment by a superior or co-workers and has been fired for complaining. Employees who call attention to other kinds of misconduct by their employers - usually labeled whistleblowers - are also the source of wrongful termination lawsuits, as demonstrated by a recent case filed in Los Angeles.

The plaintiff had been working for Facebook as a director of sales growth when he was lured away by Facebook rival Snapchat. The employee was fired after only three weeks on the job at Snapchat, and he has alleged that he was fired for complaining about the company's practice of falsely inflating its sales records. According to the complaint, Snapchat is planning a public offering of its stock, and it has been using false sales data to drive up the price of the stock. The complaint also alleges that Snapchat hired the employee because it expected him to disclose proprietary information belonging to Facebook.

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