Law Offices of Louis Spitters

Federal court refuses to dismiss wrongful termination lawsuit

In employment cases, it's often the case that employers express a different reason for a termination than what the employee believes to be the actual reason. In California and other jurisdictions, when the employer is involved in a wrongful termination of an employee, the employer will often make up what is called a 'pretextual' reason for the termination. It's a false reason designed to put the best face on what the employer has done.

In these situations, it's hoped that counsel can assist the former employee to reveal the true reason for the wrongful employment termination. One recent California case gives an example of the conflicting reasons given for a termination. A former female employee of The Permanente Medical Group sued that organization with a wrongful termination claim charging retaliation for whistleblowing and breach of employment contract.

Permanente responded that it fired her for reasons described as 'personal improprieties'. The woman, however, claimed in her wrongful termination lawsuit that she was fired for complaining about managerial methods in the orthopedics department that were harming patients. She had filed the suit in the California courts but Permanente had the case removed to federal court due to federal issues regarding collective bargaining agreements.

There is a dispute over whether collective bargaining procedures were followed by both parties. In the federal court, the healthcare provider tried to have the case thrown out early due to the claimed collective bargaining violations. However, the federal district court judge ruled that the whistleblower claim was sufficient to have the case move forward. The former employee made sufficient allegations in her complaint asserting that she was fired for protesting unsafe and unhealthy work conditions at her place of employment.

The court explained that the woman had alleged facts in her complaint that added up to more than a sheer possibility that Permanente had discharged her in retaliation for making complaints. Generally, under federal and California law it is a wrongful termination for an employer to fire someone for making claims that the employer was engaging in specified wrongdoing. If you're a California resident who has suffered wrongful termination, or other employment issues or problems, you'll benefit by meeting with an employment law professional and getting accurate answers to all of your questions.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Kaiser whistleblower case steams forward," William Dotinga, May 9, 2013

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