Imagine working for the same company for over 46 years and then, suddenly, being fired and having your job taken right out from under you. Unfortunately, in many cases, it is perfectly legal for employers to lay people off in this manner, as long as they are being laid off for legal reasons. However, a former Blanchard Community Librarian who has recently gone through this very situation does not feel his termination was lawful. Therefore, he filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against his former employer.
The man worked at the library for over 46 years. He started as a volunteer as a teenager. In April 2013, he was fired. The board of trustees' decision to fire the man came after ongoing months of public criticism and tense meetings.
In June 2012, the man's employment contract was updated and made effective through December of 2013. The contract states, if the man loses his job in the time covered by the contract, he will still be paid out through the end of2013. The contract was never physically signed, and, although it states that certain involved parties agreed to it, there is not anything about a lawyer consulting on creating the document.
The man's lawsuit states that the trustees were not justified in firing the man and, thus, he was wrongfully terminated and they breached the contract. His lawsuit is asking for the recovery of $50,000 plus interest in damages, which covers lost wages and benefits that were not paid out as was agreed to in the terms of the contract.
In response, the library's board of trustees listed 37 allegations against the man that gave them the right to terminate his employment. Many of the allegations involved misuse or personal use of library property and failure to maintain the physical structure.
This case has not yet been decided and only time will tell which way the court falls on this particular wrongful discharge case. Although employers can legally terminate the employment of their employees, if an employee is fired and there is an unlawful reason for termination, that employee may be able to recover damages from their previously employer.
Source: Santa Paula Times, "Robles files lawsuit against BCL trustees, response alleges mismanagement," Peggy Kelly, April 2, 2014