A recent survey of tech industry employees found that 41 percent of respondents who reported workplace abuse were retaliated against by management. The survey, which was conducted by a company developing an anonymous app for reporting abuse, showed that Airbnb had the most reports of retaliation. Tech giants Google and Facebook also made the Top 12 list. Workers in California should understand that the results from the survey mirror data gathered by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2017.
Workers in California have a right to be free from retaliation when they seek to protect themselves from discrimination, sexual harassment or other kinds of unlawful workplace conduct. Sometimes, retaliation can take the form of a wrongful termination or being passed over for promotions, perks and appropriate performance bonuses. One federal district court is also embracing the position expressed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, that waivers of an employee's right to pursue discrimination claims are a form of retaliation in advance.
California employees may be interested to learn that the former head of the City of San Diego's Public Records Department claimed in a lawsuit that she was fired for refusing to bend public record laws during the 2017 Hepatitis A outbreak. The former employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the City's Risk Management Department at the end of January.
On May 21, a former software engineer who worked at Uber Technologies Inc. in California filed a lawsuit claiming that she experienced years of sexual harassment while working at the company. The female software engineer said that the workplace had a male-dominated culture that included discriminatory, degrading and sexually harassing conduct that was aimed at the female workers.
A California jury deliberated for about four hours on May 10 before ordering Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to pay one of its former general managers almost $8 million. The fast-food chain claimed that it fired the woman for stealing $626 from a restaurant safe, but the jury were more convinced by her attorneys' version of events. They told the jury that the woman stole nothing and was fired after years of faithful service in retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim.
Workers in California who expose wrongful or unethical practices on the job may be afraid of the threat of losing their employment. This is one reason that the False Claims Act includes an anti-retaliation provision, making it illegal for companies to fire whistleblowers in response to their actions. In addition, actions like demoting, suspending or harassing employee whistleblowers are also banned by the act's prohibitions.
The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California will oversee the consolidated legal complaints of a man who alleges that his employer dismissed him in an act of retaliation. The man had been involved in a business deal with Roadrunner Intermodal Services when it bought all of stock for Central Cal Transportation in 2012. He also accepted a position to work as vice president of Central Cal Transportation after Roadrunner assumed ownership. His lawsuit aims accusations of failure to pay wages, libel, slander and wrongful termination at Roadrunner.
According to news reports, a transgender man who previously worked for Google is suing the company for wrongful termination and retaliation. The man filed his lawsuit on Feb. 21 in San Francisco County Superior Court.
A vocational nurse employed at the University of California, San Francisco, has chosen to file a lawsuit against her employer, the UC Board of Regents and the university's president. According to the plaintiff, she suffered retaliation after complaining that her supervisor sexually harassed her and discriminated against her because of her religion.
If an employee in California reports dangerous or illegal practices by an employer, that employee should be protected from retaliation under federal laws that protect whistleblowers. A man who made a report when he was concerned about his employer's disposal of asbestos at a high school in New York was fired, and the company filed a defamation lawsuit against him. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration filed a lawsuit on the man's behalf, and he was awarded around $174,000 by a jury in damages.