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Wrongful Termination – History, Case Examples, and More

By Matt Vild in Posted September 22nd, 2016

Wrongful Termination – History, Case Examples, and More

Workers who feel they lost their jobs unfairly do have legal recourse. Wrongful termination is a broad term that covers many situations and scenarios. Here are some examples of situations where a worker should consult an employment or labor attorney.

  • Losing a job due to the employer’s discrimination based on race, nationality, religion, sex or age.
  • Being fired for refusing to commit an illegal act.
  • Losing a job after filing a workers’ compensation claim, which is fairly common.

Suppose the employer did not follow its own employee handbook or established policy and procedures. That could be wrongful termination as well. Some states now allow suits to be brought for termination because of sexual orientation.

What if the employer did not actually fire the worker, but unfairly manipulated conditions to force him or her to resign? That is constructive dismissal, where the employer changed the job or its conditions drastically, leaving the employee no other choice but to resign.

How long have employee protection laws been around?

The first recorded court decision on this type of employment case was in England, in the year 1877. Once that established a precedent, later court rulings followed the pattern, as is usual. Today numerous laws grant wronged employees protections and awards, which vary by state.

There are two broad categories to help determine if a termination was wrongful.

Employment under a formal contract, and the other, much more common case, employment governed by ‘at will’ employment laws.

As we saw in the preceding examples, the absence of a formal contract does not give an employer the legal right to end a job unfairly.

So how does a wronged worker prove his or her case?

While employers will understandably not admit to an illegal motive for firing a worker, wrongful termination cases have been won on circumstantial evidence. That is, have other employees been allowed to keep their jobs under similar circumstances? If so, then why was the one person made an exception to the norm, and ‘singled out’ to be fired?

One such high-profile case of wrongful termination was that of Sandy Baratta, a former Oracle Vice President, who won her suit against Oracle in 2000. She was dismissed for reasons relating to her pregnancy and her whistle-blowing against co-workers. In court, she won $300,000 in lost wages, $2 million for a lost stock option opportunity, and $200,000 for emotional distress.

More recently, Mrs. Blanca Torres won over $8,000,000 in her wrongful termination suit against B.E. Aerospace Inc. In June of 2016 a Los Angeles jury awarded Mrs. Torres payment for both economic and non-economic damages, plus $7,000,000 in punitive damages. Mrs. Torres, 55, said she had been fired from her job as a quality assurance supervisor, and replaced by a younger male.

If you feel you were wrongfully terminated from your job, please contact Feldman Browne Olivares now to discuss your potential case. If you’ve never met with an attorney before, don’t be intimidated, here’s what you can expect when meeting with a lawyer for the first time. First consultations are free.

Call now, toll-free: (800) 350-0454.


September 22, 2016