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California security guard claims wrongful termination

A former security guard has filed a lawsuit against Universal Music Publishing Group in which she calls out numerous celebrities for pervasive drug use at the company's facility in Santa Monica, California. The 41-year-old woman claims she was fired after reporting the illegal drug use to her superiors. She says her discharge constituted wrongful termination in violation of California's whistle blower law.

The lawsuit, which was filed on April 9, alleges that drug use was so widespread at the facility that the security guard observed people openly smoking marijuana in lounges and other common areas and that the smell of marijuana seeped out of closed offices and studio rooms. The lawsuit further alleges that some people even offered illegal substances to her. Although she claims that she reported the drug use, she says no one heeded her complaints. Instead, one company executive told her that the big-name musicians who visited the facility could do whatever they pleased.

Under California law, it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting illegal activity, also known as "blowing the whistle." Unlawful retaliation may take many different forms, including a negative performance evaluation, a cut in pay or work hours or reassignment to undesirable job duties. When someone is discharged in retaliation for blowing the whistle, they may bring a claim for wrongful termination.

In order to succeed in her claim against Universal Music Publishing Group, the former security guard will need to prove that she did in fact report the illegal activity and that her employment was terminated as a result. In wrongful discharge cases, employers often come up with other reasons to explain why an employee was fired, requiring the employee to provide evidence that the employer's reason was a pretext for unlawful retaliation. An experienced employment law attorney may be able to help the employee establish the facts needed to prove unlawful conduct.

Source: Starcasm.net, "Lawsuit claims popular musicians smoke pot in the studio, no one is surprised," Emily, April 11, 2013

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