Whenever an employee is fired, terminated, or otherwise let go by a company, it is reasonable for the employee to feel kilted and wronged. They may even think that they were fired under dubious or wrongful circumstances. Whether that is true or not, it is important for any employee that is discharged to consider their legal situation.
Whole Foods has been sued by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) after they fired a cashier that has a genetic disorder that caused cysts to grow on her kidneys. She had worked at Whole Foods since 2005 and was fired in 2015 after she missed two days of work when she was in the hospital due to her condition. In 2009, she received a kidney transplant to help with the condition.
A former police officer that was fired from his job in April 2015 filed a wrongful termination lawsuit in October of that year against the department for their retaliatory actions. The former officer claims that the police launched an investigation into his personal social connections with the wife of a friend of the city manager. The lawsuit claims that if a supervisor can dictate how an employee spends his or her time in a private, social setting, then it violates his or her First Amendment rights.
A former sales manager at a car dealership recently settled a wrongful termination lawsuit that he filed against the dealership to the tune of $2.1 million. The sales manager, Chris Azzaro, was fired in 2013 and filed his wrongful termination lawsuit two years later in 2015. When he filed the lawsuit, the dealership suddenly accused Azzaro of embezzling $300,000 in company funds. Those criminal allegations would later be dismissed, and Azzaro's lawsuit would be amended to include malicious prosecution on the part of the auto dealership, John Howard Motors.
A teacher that was fired shortly after he reported copyright violations to the principal of the school where he worked. This was before there was evidence of widespread financial impropriety within the school district.
UploadVR, a virtual reality tech company that has offices on the west coast, is being sued for a wide range of illegal acts towards their employees, including wrongful termination, sexual harassment, and discrimination. The allegations come from UploadVR's former Director of Digital and Social Media, who was fired seemingly after she raised these issues with the company.
Some people may think of wrongful termination as its own distinct legal entity that doesn't involve other aspects of employment law. But wrongful termination almost always involves some other area of employment law. You can be wrongfully fired due to retaliation; you can be wrongfully terminated after reporting sexual harassment; you can be wrongfully terminated as a result of your employer discriminating against you or infringing upon your rights in any way.
The issues that surround Wells Fargo are numerous and the once-esteemed bank has fallen into a position that leaves their future murky and clouded. Without getting into all of these problems, let's focus on just one that involves employment law and whistleblowers. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) decided that Wells Fargo must rehire a former manager that they fired and pay him $5.4 million to account for lost wages, attorney fees and punitive damages.
In the opposite corner of the country from us in Florida, a wrongful termination lawsuit signifies the lengths that employers will go to in order to cover up for sloppy employees. The story also shows that no one is immune to nepotism.
In our last post, we talked about how companies don't have full freedom in firing an employee. This may seem at odds with the definition of an at-will employee. These employee relationships between the individual and the company can be ended at any time without warning, by either party. That sure sounds like firing freedom for the company, doesn't it?