Across the country, people are fired from jobs every day. The reasons are as varied as the number of incidences. In some cases, the worker’s performance may be poor, or they may have done something wrong. In other cases, a company may be downsizing or reconfiguring their roster due to changing business needs. In other cases, however, an employee is let go for what they contend to be blatantly illegal reasons, resulting in a wrongful termination claim by the employee.
If that claim is proven, the employee may be entitled to compensation and more. That occurred in the case of a Clear Lake, California, truck driver who was awarded $50,000 in compensatory damages and an additional $50,000 in punitive damages. The awards were made after the company, Absolute Waste Removal, was found to have wrongfully terminated him.
Absolute Waste Removal was also compelled to reinstate the driver to the position he had previously held with full pay and benefits. The company was ordered to pay $23,203 in back wages, with interest, to him as well. All of this was based on the finding that Absolute Waste Removal had fired the driver for raising safety concerns when company routes were reorganized.
That finding, along with the order for reinstatement and compensation, came from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA determined that the firing constituted wrongful termination and should not have happened. An administrator of OSHA said that employees have the right to raise safety concerns without being retaliated against by being fired.
This case shows that employees should not be afraid to address safety concerns at work. If they do, it is not a valid reason to be fired. California workers facing wrongful determination can learn more about their rights by talking with an attorney.
Source: Globe Gazette, “Clear Lake business found guilty of wrongful termination” Peggy Senzarino, Apr. 24, 2014