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.
She claims that she complained often about the inequity between the men and women's athletic programs at the university, and that is why she was fired. San Diego State University claims that she was fired due to incidental contact with an assistant coach during a game. The former coach filed a lawsuit that eventually did go to court. The jury awarded her approximately $3.3 million, but the university had the right to appeal. In order to move on and end the litigation, the former coach recently reached a settlement with the school.
It does not take many wrongful termination cases five years to reach a settlement, but the reported reason why this former coach decided to settle her claims may resonate with other Sacramento County residents in similar situations. It is not necessary to take a claim to trial in order to receive restitution for a wrongful termination. Even if the prospect of a settlement is attractive, it may be worthwhile to make sure that it is fair and in an individual's best interests first.
Source: fox5sandiego.com, "Final settlement reached in Beth Burns wrongful termination lawsuit", April 5, 2018