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California firefighter awarded millions for wrongful termination

Safety on the job is important for every worker, but some fields are inherently prone to tragedy if safety is overlooked even for a moment. In the field of firefighting, it's extremely critical that all established safety procedures are adhered to, for the sake of both the firefighters and those they are trying to save. Unfortunately, sometimes doing the right thing, or reporting the wrong thing, can result in illegal employer retaliation.

Here in the Golden State recently, a firefighter received over $2 million in a wrongful termination suit centering on safety procedures, or the lack thereof. The 47-year-old former fireman for the City of Vallejo claimed that he was the target of retaliation after informing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about potential procedural missteps during a fire. The 2011 incident involved a burning mobile home; the man claimed when he entered the unit another firefighter, who was supposed to accompany him, was not there. Firefighters are supposed to work in pairs, and the plaintiff claimed he was left alone for 90 seconds. The second firefighter also failed to wear gloves during the event, according to the claims.

Unfortunately, the resident of the mobile home later died. Following the civil trial, a jury in Solano County awarded the former fireman $2.3 million. The lawsuit was an employer retaliation and wrongful termination suit; retaliation cases may be legally complicated but are often necessary in order for the wronged employee to obtain compensation for damages. Being fired from one's job, or otherwise harassed at work or demoted - all of these may be forms of illegal retaliation that can severely harm a person's professional and financial well-being.

A skilled wrongful termination attorney can explain what is involved in a retaliation action and what types of favorable outcomes may be available. From negotiation to trial and beyond, an experienced lawyer's legal guidance can take a damaging situation from stalled to under control.

Source: Fire Engineering, "Former California firefighter gets $2.3 million in termination case," March 24, 2016

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