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Sacramento Employment Legal Blog

Many wrongful termination claims settle before going to trial

Even in an "at-will" employment state such as California, employers here in Sacramento County are barred from letting an employee go for reasons that violate public policy or some other law. If an employee believes an employer fired him or her in violation of the law or public policy, that person may have a claim for wrongful termination. Many such claims end up settling before going to trial, which often better serves the employee's interests.

The former women's basketball coach at a university in southern California was terminated in 2013. At the time, she still had four years left on a five-year contract. The university gave one explanation for her termination, but the former coach had another.

NBCUniversal faces disability discrimination accusations

Many people in the Greater Sacramento metro may empathize with the host of "Talk Stoop with Cat Greenleaf" on taxi-TV, Cat Greenleaf, who suffers from clinical depression. The producers of her show have known about her condition for some time, but in the fall of 2017, Greenleaf says it suddenly became an issue. She claims in a recent lawsuit filed against NBCUniversal, LX and one of LX's senior vice presidents that at that time, she began to suffer from disability discrimination.

Last fall, Greenleaf lost a dear friend. This triggered relapse of her depression for which she began taking medication and attended counseling. In Dec. 2017, she told her supervisors of her relapse. A few days after doing so, she was terminated. She claims she was fired due to discrimination against her condition and that her duties never suffered after her relapse.

Are you the victim of retaliation at work?

When you started your job here in the Greater Sacramento metro, you probably went through some sort of orientation or received an employee handbook that explains procedures regarding a variety of issues you may encounter in the workplace. This should include procedures for reporting harassment and discrimination. It should also prohibit any retaliation against you for making complaints (whether inside or outside the company) regarding those or other issues.

Unfortunately, many retaliatory actions by co-workers, managers and supervisors are often subtle. For instance, if your past performance evaluations were consistently good and then drop after you make a complaint, that could be retaliation. If you find that your work comes under greater scrutiny than it has in the past or if you are transferred to another, less desirable position, your employer could be attempting to "punish" you for speaking out regarding some wrongdoing.

Employees mustn't be subjected to retaliatory measures

Many people understand that their performance at work can lead to promotions, raises and other positive employment actions. For this reason, many employees try their best to get the job done in a way that meets or exceeds the current standards. These individuals work hard and shouldn't be subjected to any type of harassment or discrimination in the workplace.

Unfortunately, some employers don't treat employees lawfully and others don't comply with applicable laws and regulations. When this happens, the employee might speak up against the actions of the employer. This is where some trouble for the employee might begin. Even though it isn't legal to do so, some employers will retaliate against employees who file reports against employers.

Firefighter says he suffered discrimination and harrassment

In recent years, more and more people in the Greater Sacramento metro area have felt comfortable enough with the current state of society to quit living their lives in the shadows. In many cases, members of the LGBT community have been embraced, but not in all cases. Some are met with derision and ridicule, especially at work. They face discrimination and harassment at the hands of co-workers, supervisors and employers who judge them unfairly.

This is what one California firefighter says happened to him when he finally felt confident enough to tell his co-workers about his sexual orientation in 2013. He says this is when a campaign of harassment and discrimination began. He attempted to go through the appropriate channels to make the mistreatment stop, but claims he was "shunned" at every turn.

Academy president faces sexual harassment allegations

Women in Hollywood, California have given a voice to mistreated workers across the country by publicly accusing the powerful men who abused them early in their careers. However, just as the #metoo and #timesup movements began to settle down, a new accusation has come to light. While women in the motion picture industry work for changes that allow them to build careers without having to submit to sexual harassment, an investigation has opened against the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The organization promotes the movie industry and hosts the annual Academy Awards event. Every year, a member is elected to the office of president. Members can be from any branch of the film industry, and the current president, John Bailey, was a cinematographer on such films as "Groundhog Day" and "The Big Chill." He has also recently been accused by three women of sexual harassment.

Wrongful termination comes after HR accuses victim of lying

Working in a hostile environment has been known to cause an employee negative consequences, both emotionally and physically. Hostile work environments can range from subtle bullying, discrimination or wrongful termination. For some California employees, the reasons for the harassment or discrimination may be unknown, and the workers may have a difficult time understand why co-workers or employees mistreat them. Other workers are able to trace the abuse back to a particular action, often the act of whistleblowing.

Fortunately, the law protects workers from employees who retaliate against them. One woman in another state recently filed a lawsuit after she was wrongfully terminated. The woman worked for a hospital and says she was repeatedly the victim of sexual harassment by a co-worker. For seven months, the co-worker often showed her inappropriate pictures and shared explicit details of his personal life.

Chobani faces disability discrimination lawsuit

In California and across the country, the question of what constitutes a reasonable accommodation has been debated between workers and employers for years. It is true that accommodating workers who have disabilities or medical conditions can be costly to employers. However, by not attempting to provide alternatives for such protected employees, a business owner or manager may face a disability discrimination lawsuit. One woman who lives in another state is now seeking recompense after a well-known company refused to accommodate her.

This is not the first time the Greek yogurt maker Chobani has been accused of discrimination. Two different lawsuits filed in 2017 accused the company of terminating workers because of their age. The most recent lawsuit claims that the company intentionally disregarded an employee with federally protected rights based upon a disability. While the media does not disclose the exact nature of the employee's disability, reports state that her difficulties prevent her from performing at least one major life activity.

5 things you should do if you're facing discrimination

You've faced discrimination in the workplace for the last six months. It's taken an emotional toll, to the point that it's a hostile workplace. You dread going to work. You can't imagine doing this for the next 30 years until you retire.

You may not have to. You suspect that your boss is going to fire you. It's unfair, and you both know it. But you can't shake the feeling that this is the end of the line. If you stand up for yourself at all, that's it.

Court ruling may expose whistleblowers to retaliation

Employees in California and elsewhere who learn of illegal or unethical practices in their companies have long been encouraged to take advantage of protections for those who report the offenses. Whistleblowers are essential in industries such as finance, and the information they provide to the Securities and Exchange Commission allows that agency to hold accountable companies responsible for handling the investments of many citizens. Whistleblowers may even be eligible for substantial rewards under certain circumstances, but in order to qualify for rewards and protections, they must follow the SEC guidelines.

Among the SEC rules is that reports of alleged wrongdoing must be made to the SEC within a certain period of time for an employee to be considered a whistleblower, thus gaining the protections of the government. Recently, companies have been encouraging employees to report directly to them instead of to the SEC. When companies learn of internal wrongdoing, they have the chance to correct it or report it to the SEC themselves, which often results in penalties that are not as harsh as when an employee makes the report.

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