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California firefighter alleges wrongful termination, retaliation

An incident at a colleague's birthday party three years ago cost a Los Angeles County firefighter his job. The fire engineer was accused of sexually abusing four women at the party -- an accusation the man did not deny. However, the firefighter, who was drinking alcohol at the nightclub event, claimed that someone slipped him a date rape drug that led to the illegal behavior.

An analysis of a hair sample from the defendant detected doxylamine, a non-prescription drug ingredient sometimes associated with date rape drugs. A jury acquitted the firefighter of all charges in March 2012 because jurors believed the man was not accountable for the molestations. One month later, the man -- a firefighter since 2001 -- was fired from his job at the Redondo Beach Fire Department for sexual misbehavior.

The unemployed man filed a wrongful termination complaint and was issued an arbitration award in December 2013. The fire department was ordered to re-hire the employee at an entry-level position. The man returned to work in May, but pressed forward with a lawsuit against the City of Redondo Beach, the fire department and an ex-fire chief.

The complaint requests $180,000 for wage losses plus compensation for the demotion, alleged discrimination and employer retaliation. The plaintiff alleges that he continues to suffer emotionally and financially due to mistreatment by his employer. The man also disputes the reason he was fired, claiming the termination was not due to misconduct, but prompted by the firefighter's strong union affiliation and the pursuit of a workers' compensation claim. A trial is set to begin in October.

California companies can use almost any reason to fire a worker unless the termination violates employment laws. Employers also break the law by retaliating against workers who report unsafe, illegal or unethical business practices.

Source: Easy Reader News, "Redondo firefighter, fired amidst sexual battery charges, sues City, officials" Alyssa Morin, Jun. 05, 2014

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