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Wrongful termination suit claims Hanford officials retaliated

California employers have a lot of flexibility in hiring and firing practices. Some Los Angeles workers may be surprised to know many employers don't need a strong reason or any reason at all to terminate an employee. That's part of living in a state with "at-will" employment rules where, barring any job or union contract to the contrary, employers pretty much have free rein over when and why to pink slip someone.

That may sound discouraging to workers, but employment laws aren't one sided. Employer discrimination and retaliation are prohibited during any stage of employment. Among other safeguards, employees are protected from being fired due to injury claims, medical conditions, national origin, religion, race, sexual orientation, gender and whistleblowing.

The Hanford Parks and Recreation director was fired less than a year after he was promoted to the position in July 2012. A month into his new job, the director placed a female supervisor in charge of a local recreational center. The supervisor made changes that provoked complaints, including negative comments from two city officials about the need for a male supervisor to be in charge of the center's programs.

The director replaced the facility's supervisor with a new person, also female, in April 2013. The following month, the director was fired. A wrongful termination lawsuit filed by the former director claims the man was fired for accusing city officials of creating a hostile work environment, by making inappropriate comments about the former female head of the rec center.

The lawsuit against the City of Hanford claims city officials broke employment laws. Mediation attempts have been unsuccessful. The former director requested reinstatement, punitive damages and lost wages and benefits.

Discrimination, harassment and retaliatory actions in the workplace are against state and federal laws. Consulting with an employment law attorney can help you better understand the rights and protections you have as a worker.

Source:  The Sentinel, "Former Hanford manager suing city" Mike Eiman, Jul. 24, 2014

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