Unfortunately, retaliation at work is still a widespread occurrence throughout California. Many employers do not know the law, so it is no surprise when an employee refuses to participate in an illegal activity or reports a violation of law, the employer retaliates against the employee for being “insubordinate.” So what is retaliation?
Retaliation is when an employer takes adverse action against an employee for reporting or opposing an illegal practice in the workplace. Adverse action by the employer can occur in the form of a demotion, a cut in pay, a decrease in hours or a termination. There are many things that are illegal or violation under California law such as a nurse reporting patient abuse by other nurses, an accountant refusing to cook the books, or a worker reporting wage and hour violations by his or her employer.
Michael Marlo v. United Parcel Service, Inc.
Michael Marlo v. UPS is a great case example of retaliation in the workplace. Plaintiff worked for UPS for over twenty years. At some point in during his time working for UPS, he filed a class action lawsuit alleging wage and hour violations. The class action failed though and he ended up pursuing an individual wage and hour claim. In the same year he filed his individual claim, plaintiff would encourage his co-workers to file their own wage and hour claims against UPS. Over fifty UPS workers filed individual wage and hour claims. In the same year, plaintiff was terminated.
Plaintiff argued that UPS retaliated against him for reporting wage and hour violations in the workplace. Further, plaintiff argued that the reasons stated by UPS for his termination was just a pretext to get rid of him as UPS viewed his lawsuits and discussions with co-workers as a distraction in the workplace. Defendant argued that plaintiff was fired due an incident that occurred with a customer in the same year he filed his individual lawsuit. Defendant further argued that plaintiff broke numerous policies, and that is why he was fired.
Companies Will Be Held Accountable For Unlawful Conduct
The jury in Michael Marlo v. UPS sided with the plaintiff and awarded the plaintiff with over $18 million dollars in damages. The jury was not convinced that the real reason plaintiff was fired was due to an incident with a customer. This case is a classic retaliation case (but the damages ended up being extremely high). Plaintiff opposeed violations of law, and even filed multiple lawsuits while he was still working there. In the same year as one of his lawsuits, the company fired him after twenty-two years of great service. The facts on their face pretty much scream retaliation.
If you have worked for an employer for many years and recently reported or opposed illegal activity, and now your employer is retaliating against you, call a whistleblower lawyer for a free consultation. You can also visit our retaliation page here.