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Fired employee sues prominent lobbyist

A fired employee has sued her former employer alleging wrongful termination, state statutory violations and defamation. Sloat Higgins Jensen & Associates is a prominent California lobbying firm that boasts several high profile clients including insurance, energy and utility companies. The woman claims that she was terminated because she refused to forward several thousands of dollars of illegal contributions to elected state officials.

The plaintiff alleges that her former employer hosted lavish events at various locations in order to raise funds for elected officials who would be hearing bills in which the company's clients had an interest. According to the wrongful termination lawsuit, the company's principal hosted the events at his mansion as well as the firm's offices and a local wine bar. He never charged for any of the venues and provided complementary catering, beverages and cigars paid for by the firm. According to the complaint, an average event would raise between $10,000 and $50,000 in political contributions. In addition, the court papers allege that the company gave politicians and their staff members free tickets to professional sporting events, concerts and golf outings.

The former employee claims that she spoke with the principal about her concerns and tried to convince him to start charging the officials for the costs of the events, but that she was told to never the subject again. She claims that she was expected to arrange for gifts and events and record the payments as business expenses for tax records. When she finally refused to further participate, she says that she received a notice of termination.

After she was fired, she claimed that her boss attempted to discredit her to her former coworkers and accused her of felony theft. She is seeking punitive damages, and will also likely be asking for compensation for lost wages, benefits and attorney's fees.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Fired Worker Takes On Big-Time CA Lobbyist", Elizabeth Warmerdam, December 27, 2013

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