Wrongful Termination

Indian Tribes – Sovereign Immunity

By on November 10, 2015 - Comments off


Cosentino v. Fuller (Fourth District, May 28, 2015) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 15 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5303

A man who was terminated from his job as a table games dealer at an Indian tribal casino filed suit against five members of the tribe’s gaming commission responsible for licensing individuals involved in the tribe’s gaming activities and overseeing those activities. The plaintiff alleged that he was terminated in retaliation for acting as an informant for the California Department of Justice as part of an investigation into criminal activity on the gaming floor, and that the defendants had  suspended and then revoked his gaming license without explanation or cause.

The defendants specially appeared and filed a motion to quash and dismiss, arguing that sovereign immunity deprived the court of subject matter jurisdiction because the plaintiff had based all of his claims on defendants’ official actions as members of the tribe’s gaming commission. The trial court agreed and granted the motion, but the court of appeal reversed, holding that the evidence in the record showed that they had exceeded their authority by revoking the plaintiff’s license, and therefore sovereign immunity did not apply: Read the rest »


Employment Law — Mental Disability

By on October 15, 2015 - Comments off

medical waiting room

Higgins-Williams v. Sutter Medical Foundation (Third District, May 26, 2015) — Cal.Rptr.3d —-, 15 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 5245, 2015 Daily Journal D.A.R. 5740

 A woman who worked as a medical clinical assistant performing patient intakes filed an action against her employer, asserting causes of action for disability discrimination and wrongful termination. The plaintiff alleged that she had been diagnosed as suffering from adjustment disorder with anxiety, as a result of being stressed because of interactions at work with human resources and her manager. The plaintiff further alleged that she had been terminated during a leave of absence while undergoing a regimen of psychotherapy and medications related to her alleged disability.

The trial court granted summary judgment and the court of appeal affirmed, holding that the undisputed facts showed that the plaintiff was not disabled, in that her alleged disability—an inability to work under a particular supervisor because of anxiety and stress related to the supervisor’s standard oversight of job performance—is not a disability recognized in California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA; Gov. Code, § 12900 et seq.):

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Wrongful Termination: Violation of Public Policy

By on July 29, 2015 - Comments off

Yau v. Santa Margarita Ford, Inc., (Fourth District, August 26, 2014) 229 Cal.App.4th 144, 176 Cal.Rptr.3d 824, 38 IER Cases 1871, 14 Cal. Daily Op. Serv. 10,132, 2014 Daily Journal D.A.R. 11,814

A man who was terminated from his job as a service manager at an automobile dealership filed suit against his employer, asserting a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The plaintiff alleged coworkers were involved in an ongoing scheme to submit fraudulent warranty repair claims to Ford Motor Company, and that he was fired when he reported the fraud to the owner and general manager. He further alleged that his termination violated public policy set forth in laws prohibiting criminal conspiracy (Pen. Code, § 182), retaliation for refusing to participate in illegal activity (Lab. Code, § 1102.5), engaging in unfair business practices (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 17200), theft (Pen. Code, § 484), fraud and deceit (Civ. Code, §§ 1572, 1709), and various state and federal laws protecting consumer information.

The trial court sustained the dealership’s demurrer without leave to amend, finding that the plaintiffs’ third amended complaint failed to allege a violation of a policy that was “public” in the sense that it “inures to the benefit of the public” rather than serving merely the interests of the individual.  However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that the plaintiff had adequately pleaded a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy tethered to statutes proscribing theft and fraud: Read the rest »


Wrongful Termination: Mistaken Overtime Claim

By on February 18, 2010 - Comments off

Barbosa v. IMPCO Technologies, (Fourth District, November 30, 2009) 179 Cal.App.4th 1116, 101 Cal.Rptr.3d 923

A man who was terminated from his job as a carburetor assembler for mistakenly claiming overtime pay to which he was not entitled, filed an action for wrongful termination. The plaintiff contended that although he had had a reasonable good faith belief that he was entitled to unpaid overtime, when he discovered the mistake and offered to pay the money back to the payroll department he was subsequently terminated for cheating the company.

After the plaintiff completed presentation of his case, the trial court granted the former employer’s motion for a non-suit, finding that there is no public policy requiring an employer to continue to employ an at-will employee who has made an unjustified claim for monies. However, the court of appeal reversed, holding that public policy protects an employee from being terminated for making a good faith but mistaken claim to overtime: Read the rest »