Category Archives: Wrongful Termination

Protecting Medical Professional Whistleblowers

It is the public policy of California to encourage patients, nurses, doctors and other members of health facilities to speak up against suspected unsafe patient care and poor health facility conditions. It is still very common for members of health facilities to witness first hand poor patient treatment and poor patient conditions. Therefore, California has passed a unique whistleblower law, Health & Safety Code 1278.5, for medical professionals.

Basically, under 1278.5, it is unlawful for an employer of a health facility to retaliate against any patient or employee of the health facility for complaining or reporting (blowing the whistle) unsafe patient care or poor patient conditions to the employer. Employment attorneys like Mr. Robertson are there to ensure that health facility employers are held accountable under this law.

Recent Verdict – Cancer Patients and Bad Surgeons Lead to Whistleblower Complaint

In a very recent case out of the California judicial system, Wascher v. Southern California Permanente Group, plaintiff was a surgeon who worked for defendant from 2009 to 2011. During his employment, plaintiff complained about unsafe patient care to the defendant. Plaintiff made the following complaints to his employer: access to surgery for cancer patients took too long and unqualified surgeons were handling cancer cases that they should not be handling. In response to his complaints, rather than addressing the plaintiff’s legitimate complaints, the defendant barred him from becoming a partner. Plaintiff hired an employee rights attorney to protect his rights.

Plaintiff argued that he was retaliated against for complaining about unsafe patient care in the workplace. Defendant argued that the plaintiff was not barred from becoming a partner because he was not a good fit. Defendant also argued that he did not make complaints, but asked for certain preferences that would benefit himself as a surgeon. The jury was not convinced by the defense and sided with the plaintiff. The jury awarded plaintiff $1,750,000 for retaliation under Health & Safety 1278.5.

This case was a huge victory for employees of health facilities, whether it be doctors, nurses, o medical staff assistance. Wascher v. Southern California Permanente Group reinforces California’s policy of encouraging members of health facilities to speak up against suspected unsafe patient care and poor health facility conditions. This is a very important law as it not only protects employees who act as patient advocates, but also protects the pateints themselves to ensure that Californians are treated in a safe and clean health facility. If you are an employee of a health facility and you feel that you have been retaliated against for reporting unsafe patient conditions or acting as an advocate for patients adverse to your employer, then call an employee rights attorney immediately.

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Employment Law Attorneys

California is an at-will state. Thus, employers often believe that they can fire an at-will employee at any time for any reason. This is false. Under California law, an employer can fire an employee for any reason except for a reason that violates public policy. Generally, being terminated for a reason that violates public policy overrides the at-will employment doctrine. However, the question comes down to what constitutes a violation of public policy? This is a good question for an employment law attorney to answer.

Wrongful Termination Verdict

In Macdonald v. Ascent Media Group, Inc., et al, the plaintiff was hired as a creative director for defendant, a Hollywood visual effects company. The plaintiff complained to a senior executive at the company that his supervisor was using cocaine at work. The very next day the plaintiff was terminated. Fortunately, plaintiff retained employment law attorneys and sued company for wrongful termination.

At trial, the plaintiff argued that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy for reporting his supervisor’s drug use, and that the plaintiff was fired in order to protect the reputation of the company and the supervisor. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was fired because the company was concerned about protecting the privacy of its employees. The jury found that plaintiff was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy and subsequently awarded the plaintiff $450,000.

Employment Law Attorneys Can Help You

Other examples of reasons for termination that violate public policy include gender discrimination, race discrimination, family or medical leave discrimination, political activity, whistle-blowing, refusing to sign a non-compete agreement, and testifying at a hearing. This is not an exclusive list of reasons for termination that violate public policy. There are many more reasons that qualify as wrongful termination. If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, and you would like to know whether your employer has in fact wrongfully terminated you, contact an employment law attorney immediately.

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Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Wrongful Termination Lawyer | Branigan Robertson Termination LawyerThere are many lawyers across California. There are approximately 1500 or so who would classify themselves exclusively as a wrongful termination lawyer. A wrongful termination lawyer is someone who exclusively represents employees alleging that they were wrongfully terminated from their job. Usually, these lawyers work on a contingency fee which means they only get paid if they are successful in recovering a sum of money for the client.

Who is the Best Wrongful Termination Lawyer?

There are lots of fantastic wrongful termination lawyers in California. However, the best lawyer on the planet will do a terrible job on your case if he or she does not have the time or energy to dedicate to it. There are numerous public accounts of great attorney’s who simply became too busy that they failed to file someone’s case on time or who neglected the case and it got dismissed for failure to prosecute.

There are many different types and sizes of wrongful discharge cases, and it would be wise to hire the attorney who seems best suited for your case. That could be a “big-name” attorney in a highrise, or it might be your cousin’s friend who just started practicing employment law six months ago and doesn’t even have an office yet.

Therefore, the best attorney for your case isn’t necessarily the guy who recently got a multimillion dollar verdict. It is more likely the attorney who believes in your case and is willing to invest his time, money, and efforts to ensure its success. Therefore, we feel it is extremely important that you feel comfortable that your lawyer is going to give your case the effort that is necessary. Some cases require more, some less. It all depends.

Branigan Robertson – A Different Kind of Wrongful Termination Lawyer

Mr. Robertson takes his job seriously, and he only takes cases where the employer has committed a serious wrong which damaged the employee in a significant way. The results he has obtained so far in his career prove that his litigation and negotiation strategy work extremely well. Mr. Robertson is also picky – only taking cases in which he is 100% confident that his client is telling the truth and nothing but the truth.

Mr. Robertson only takes a few cases each year and puts a lot of effort into each one. Some lawyers have the mentality that “more cases means I’ll make more money.” Rarely that proves to be true. Therefore, if you believe that you have a case, we urge you to call our office to see if Mr. Robertson is interested. Even if he doesn’t take your case, he will likely refer to you someone he believes will have the time and energy to throw themselves behind your employment case.

Learn about types of wrongful discharge cases by visiting our wrongful termination page and then call to receive a free consultation.

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California Employment Lawyer

Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer. His firm exclusively represents employees across California in lawsuits against employers. Our consultations are always free and Mr. Robertson exclusively works on a contingency fee basis. If you’ve been wrongfully terminated or harassed at work, visit our home page.

Finding a California employment lawyer can be frustrating. Labor attorney’s like Mr. Robertson get lots and lots of calls everyday from people who have been wrongfully terminated. This article is meant to provide some information to the individuals who are looking for a California Employment Lawyer, but have not yet found an attorney who will take their case.

California Employment Lawyer’s are Busy – Be Patient

California employment attorney’s and their staff are very busy servicing their current clients. Many lawyers cannot call you back right away as they may be writing a motion, in trial, or taking a deposition. It is when they have a few free moments that they look at potential new cases. Branigan Robertson tries to call people back with 24 hours. However, sometimes this is impossible. If you do not receive a call back in a few days, please call us again and leave us a message. If you don’t hear from us, please don’t hesitate to call another law firm. Their are lots of good lawyers out there, you just need to find one who believes in your case and has enough time to properly handle it.

Why A Lawyer May Turn Down Your Case

Unfortunately, Mr. Robertson cannot take every case. Mr. Robertson is a contingency lawyer and doesn’t get paid unless the case is successful. Obviously, with that kind of fee structure, Mr. Robertson is extremely selective and can only take a handful of cases each year. But do not assume that you don’t have a case! Call us for a free consultation. Even if Mr. Robertson turns down your case, you still might have a great case and he will likely refer you to another California employment lawyer that he believes is better suited for your case.

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CA Jury Awards $185 Million Dollars in Punitive Damages in Gender Discrimination Case

Employers often assume that they can fire an at-will employee at any time for any reason. This is not entirely true. In California, a company can fire an employee for any reason except for something that violates the law. For example, an employer cannot fire an employee for his or her gender. Unfortunately, an employee getting fired for their gender or being pregnant is still common.

In Jaurez v. AutoZone, plaintiff (represented by the amazing Lawrance Bohm) sued AutoZone in San Diego Federal Court for sex discrimination and retaliation under California law. Over the course of her employment, plaintiff noticed that male employees were treated more favorable than female employees. For example, less experience male employees were being promoted more often than female employees. Even though she was very qualified, plaintiff was consistently brushed aside for promotion and inexperienced and unqualified male employees would be promoted instead. Several years into her employment, plaintiff became pregnant and almost instantly adverse action was taken against her by her employer upon her telling the employer the good news. The district manager made snarky comments to her about her being pregnant, nitpicked at all her work, placed her on a performance improvement plan and was even demoted back to assistant manager. She as replaced by a male store manager. She was fired after she returned from maternity leave for allegedly not being trustworthy.

AutoZone’s lawyers argued that there was no evidence to support Plaintiff’s case. AutoZone’s lawyers further argued that Plaintiff was a manipulator who lied and made threats to receive promotions.

Plaintiff presented testimonies and evidence of the contrary. Former employees testified about the aura of retaliation at the company. Another witness testified that the reasons Plaintiff was terminated was unknown to him although he was the employee who was deemed by AutoZone as most knowledgeable about Plaintiff’s termination. Finally, AutoZone did not have any female employees testify as to the fair treatment by the company of female employees.

Fortunately, the jury did not buy defense counsel’s arguments. The jury returned a stunning verdict in favor of Plaintiff awarding her roughly $800,000 in lost wages and emotional distress, and issued an enormous $185,000,000 punitive damages verdict.

At the end of the day, this is huge for employees who have been and potentially will be terminated by their employees for discriminatory reasons. Large corporations such as AutoZone need to be held accountable for breaking the law or else these corporations will keep doing it without any consequences.

While this case is not a typical employment verdict, contact an employment lawyer immediately if you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated. You should not wait as the statute of limitations may waive you case. The firm who represented Plaintiff in this case was the Bohm Law Group, a firm that Mr. Robertson works frequently with on employment cases. This is not a typical employment verdict. This information should in no way be construed as an estimate or guarantee of what you or your loved ones may win in court even if they suffered similar abuse.

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Filed under FEHA, Pregnancy, Wrongful Termination

Disabling Employers’ From Breaking the Law: Disability Discrimination in the Workplace and Rodriguez v. Valley Vista Services Inc.

California law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a physical disability, mentally disability, or medical condition. Under the law, a mental disability include any mental or psychological disorder including, but not limited to, emotional or mental illness, clinical depression, and bipolar disorder. Thus, a California employer may not base the following employment decision’s on a person’s mental disability: refuse to hire the person, fire the person from employment, or discriminate against the persons in the amount of compensation or in terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.

In Rodriguez v. Valley Vista Services Inc., plaintiff requested to take a leave of absence and reasonable accommodations as she was suffering from a mental disability in the form of severe panic attacks. She was placed on leave of absence by her doctor. Oddly enough, plaintiff was terminated within one month of making her leave and accommodation request. After being a model employee for the defendant for roughly seven years, plaintiff was terminated from employment allegedly due to “job abandonment.” Plaintiff subsequently sued her former employer and brought causes of action for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, retaliation and wrongful termination among other things.

Defendants argued that plaintiff used company e-mail to promote her babysitting gig, and that she failed to report to work for a week and refused to contact her employer thereby causing her to be terminated. Yet, the jury did not buy defendants’ arguments. After a deliberation time of three days, the jury returned a stunning verdict of $21.8 million in favor of the plaintiff.

At the end of the day, a verdict this large reaffirms California employees’ rights in the workplace. Such a large figure sends a message to employers to do what they should be doing all along: abide by the law. If you have a mental or physical disability, or a medical condition, and your employer will not reasonably accommodate you, or your believe your employer has terminated, demoted, or cut your benefits due to your disability, contact an employment lawyer immediately.

Please note, Mr. Robertson was not involved in this case in anyway and this page should not be considered a guarantee or promise as to the outcome of your case.

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Administrative Regulations Count as Fundamental Public Policy for Wrongful Termination Claims

Attorney Case Law Update: Green v. Ralee Engineering Company – Branigan Robertson is a California employment lawyer who focuses his practice on wrongful termination cases. Call for a free consultation with an attorney.

Facts of the Case

While this is not new case, it is an important one. Richard Green worked for Ralee Engineering Company, a company that manufactured airplane parts major aircraft manufacturers such as Boeing and Northrop. Mr. Green was a quality control inspector.

In 1990, Mr. Green noticed that his company was shipping some airplane parts even though they failed the inspections his QA team performed. On several occasions over the next two years, Plaintiff objected to Ralee’s practice to management and the company president. He was ignored. What is important to note is that Mr. Green did not report his company to outside governmental authorities or to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Two years after he started making complaints, Mr. Green was “laid off.”

Legal Position – Was this a Valid Wrongful Termination Case?

The big question for the case was whether FAA “administrative regulations” pertaining to the manufacture of airplane parts could be a source of fundamental public policy that would limit an employer’s right to fire an at-will employee. Congress gave the FAA the obligation to promote safe flight of civil aircraft in air commerce by prescribing minimum standards required in the interest of safety for the design, material, construction, quality of work, and performance of aircraft. The FAA, in turn, established a intricate regulatory scheme in order to ensure that aircraft design meets safety standards and aircraft manufacture conforms to the design.

These regulations require manufacturers (such as Boeing) to establish quality control inspection programs for components they produce and ensure their subcontractors do the same. Protecting airline passengers, therefore, is the relevant fundamental public policy at issue. The significant safety regulations that the FAA promulgated to implement the act, which require prime manufacturers to establish detailed inspection systems for components they produce and to ensure that their subcontractors or suppliers do the same, are implicated in this case.

Court Holding

In the end, the California Supreme Court held that Mr. Green was allowed to move forward with his wrongful termination claim. “Allowing defendant to discharge plaintiff with impunity after he sought to halt or eliminate its alleged inspection practices would only undermine the important and fundamental public policy favoring safe air travel.” Mark this down as a victory for employees throughout California.

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