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California jury awards $1.8M for claims of employer retaliation

After deliberating for less than two hours, a California jury awarded $1.8 million dollars to a former director of human resources. The woman had alleged she was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing when she was employed at a rehabilitation center known as Passages Malibu. The wrongful termination lawsuit was filed in late 2015 and alleged disability and age discrimination as well.

The suit named Passages Malibu – the woman's former employer and a company that manages treatment facility houses for people with addiction problems – as well as its co-founders, a chief operating officer and several other companies, as defendants. The complaint alleged that when the woman was hired in March 2015, she informed her supervisors that she was suffering from leukemia. When, within that same month, she reported on illegal issues regarding certain employees not receiving adequate overtime pay or breaks, she was told by a supervisor that she had more important things to worry about and shouldn't concern herself with the matter.

About a month later, when a patient at the Passages Malibu facility was found dead under suspicious circumstances, the woman insisted on reporting the incident but was specifically instructed by a supervisor that she was not to report anything about it. In early May of that year, the woman subsequently contracted an infection related to her condition and took some time off. When she later returned to work, she was fired her first day back.

The company's cofounder claimed that the woman was fired because she did not meet his performance expectations, failed to put in extra time he says was required, and did not follow orders to meet with other managers. However, the jury clearly agreed that the woman was, in fact, let go in retaliation for her whistleblowing. Anyone in California who has similarly suffered wrongful termination may benefit from discussing his or her situation with an attorney who has experience in employment law and cases of this nature.

Source: Malibu, CA Patch, "Passages Malibu Ordered To Pay $1.8M In Wrongful Termination Suit", March 10, 2017

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