This write-up focuses on unlawful termination settlements in the state of California. It is very rare for good claims to go to trial, for the reason that they mostly settle out of court. However, if they don’t reach settlement, there will be a trial, in which only one side will prevail.
A lot of these cases contain mixed verdicts, implying that they implicated 1, or possibly a number of claims of unlawful firing as a result of constructive discharge, workplace retaliation, breach of employment contract, pregnancy, age discrimination, firing in violation of public policy or whistleblower.
The data directly below exhibits a snapshot of the various kinds of cases filed plus their respective quantities in the state of CA in 2017.
|State||2017 Total Charges||% of Total USA Charges||Race||Sex||Natl Origin||Religion||Color||Retaliation All Statutes||TVII Retaliation||Age||Disability||EPA||GINA|
Wrongful discharge cases & settlements in California
Joanne Hoeper v. City and County of San Francisco
Joanne Hoeper worked as city trial attorney for the City and County of San Francisco.
She blew the whistle when she presented her findings of an alleged $10 million fraud against the city, which involved an illegal payment scheme between plumbing companies and municipal officials through fraudulent claims for sewage pipe repairs.
She was fired by her boss, the City Attorney soon after.
Hoeper sued her former employer, and proved that she was wrongfully terminated in violation of the California Whistleblower Act and False Claims Act.
She was awarded approximately $700,000 in lost earnings and $1.3 million in emotional distress. Source
Sami Mitri v. Walgreen Co.
Sami Mitri was employed as a pharmacist by Walgreen Co. for 13 years.
While working there, he became suspicious of improper billing practices conducted by the company. He claimed that some Walgreen stores were improperly billing Medicare for medicines, which were not being dispensed.
Mitri was terminated soon after reporting this.
In 2011, he sued Walgreen for wrongful termination due to retaliation for his report against his employer.
The jury decided in favor of Mitri, awarding him $88,000 in compensatory damages, and $1.155 in punitive damages. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the punitive damages sum excessive, and reduced it to $352,000. Source
EEOC v Delhi Mental Rehab Center
A supervisor working at Delhi Rehab Center subjected female workers to constant verbal sexual harassment.
The EEOC filed a lawsuit on behalf of 9 female employees who were harassed by the supervisor, which settled for $145,000.
In this second lawsuit against the employer, the EEOC filed a suit claiming that Audel Mendoza, the husband of one of the women harassed from the initial lawsuit, was wrongfully terminated days after the EEOC contacted the company to arrange an on-site investigation regarding the first lawsuit. The husband opposed the harassment, and helped the women in filing charges. He would have undoubtedly been interviewed by the EEOC during the on-site investigation, were he not terminated beforehand.
The unlawful conduct of the company violates Title VII, and Mendoza was wrongfully terminated in retaliation. The case settled for $25,000. Source
April Rodriguez v. Valley Vista Services, Inc., Zerep Management Corp.
April Rodriguez, a mother of four, started working as a customer service representative at Valley Vista Services in 2004.
In December, 2010, she started having panic attacks, and her doctor placed her on a leave of absence. She requested accommodations and a leave of absence, but her disability claim was met with skepticism by her supervisor.
1 month later, she was terminated due to job abandonment.
Rodriguez sued her former employer for disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, failure to engage in the interactive process, retaliation and wrongful termination.
The jury decided in her favor, and she received $528k in economic damages, $4.7 million in non-economic damages, $7.5 in punitive damages from Valley Vista, and $9 million in punitive damages from Zerep. Source
EEOC v Kovacevich 5 Farms
Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects not just existing employees from wrongful discrimination, but also would-be employees applying for a job, as we can see from this case.
Valley Grape Grower is a Tulare County company, which produces table grapes. The EEOC started a sex discrimination investigation at the company, after receiving several reports from females, who were not hired by the company. It turned out that the company didn’t hire any women between 1998-2002, despite the fact that they filled about 300 seasonal farm jobs every single year.
The case was settled by consent decree. The employer denied any wrongdoing, but agreed to pay a total settlement of $1.68 million, which was to be distributed to women who were not hired by the company. Source
Esther Kim v. Konad USA Distribution, Inc.
Esther Kim started working at Konad Inc. in 2006.
During this time, she endured constant sexual harassment from her supervisor, Song Whang. He was constantly asking her sexual oriented questions, and asking for sexual favors. What’s more, the supervisor started hugging Kim, and patting her buttocks.
In 2010, the she could not bare the work environment any longer, and wrote a letter to her supervisor that she would not be returning to work. She claimed that she was fired by the supervisor, when he replied that she should take her last paycheck and go and make a lot of love with her boyfriend.
In 2011, Kim sued the company and the supervisor in a civil action alleging sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The first 3 claims were pleaded under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), the 4th under common law. A bench trial awarded her $60,000. Source
EEOC v Harris Farms
Olivia Tamayo is a Mexican immigrant and a mother of 5. She worked for Harris Farms as a crop picker. The company was one of the largest farming businesses in Central San Joaquin Valley.
She claimed that her supervisor raped her several times, and subjected her to continuous verbal sexual harassment. She was afraid to speak out initially, since she was scared for her safety and that of her family’s. The supervisor even attacked her when she spoke with another male supervisor. On top of this, her co-workers threatened her and told her sexually offensive things.
She reported the events to her company, but nothing changed. She had to continue working in the fields alone, and was even suspended after her report. She was forced to quit her job through constructive discharge after working at the company for 15 years.
The EEOC sued the company on behalf of the victim for violation of Title VII. The jury found the employer liable for sexual harassment, retaliation and the constructive termination of the victim. It awarded her $53,000 back pay, $91,000 front pay, $350,000 in compensatory damages for emotional pain and distress and $500,000 in punitive damages. Source
Max Taylor v. Nabors Drilling USA, LP
Max Taylor started working as a floor hand on an oil rig in June, 2010. He had 2 supervisors, Joe Mason and Jaime Mendez.
For no apparent reason, the supervisors started harassing Taylor, calling him by all types of homosexual slurs (as a side note, Taylor was not gay). They spanked his buttocks, posted defamatory images of Taylor in the restroom, and on one occasion, Mendez urinated on Taylor’s head from an elevated rig.
In September of 2010, Taylor reported the conduct of his supervisors to the HR department. After an internal investigation, the company terminated Mason, and from there on, Mendez’s harassment seized as well.
In December of the same year, Taylor was terminated for tardiness to meetings, leaving his shift early, and cursing at Mendez, the supervisor that remained.
The victim took action and sued Nabors Drilling for failure to prevent harassment, sexual harassment, retaliation and wrongful termination in violation of public policy. The jury decided in favor of Taylor as to the sexual harassment claim only, awarding him $10,000 for past economic loss and $150,000 for past non-economic loss. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits harassment. Source
EEOC v Alia Corp. (McDondald’s franchisee)
Derrick Morgan had been employed as a manager at a McDonalds’s restaurant since 2008. He had a mental impairment, but was able to perform all functions of his job. This was evident, since he started out as a crew member, and was later promoted to managerial position.
A new franchisee, Alia Corp. took the restaurant over in June 2009. Within 3 months, the employer demoted Morgan to a janitorial position, cut his pay, and reduced his work hours. Because of these factors, Morgan had to resign and find another job.
The EEOC sued the employed on behalf of Morgan, alleging disability discrimination under the ADA and constructive discharge. The company agreed to pay a settlement of $100,000 to the plaintiff as monetary relief. Source
EEOC v McDonald’s Restaurants of California, Inc.
Through a consent decree, McDonald’s paid $50,000 to a Muslim employee to settle a religious discrimination and constructive discharge lawsuit filed by the EEOC.
The ex-employee requested to grow a beard for religious reasons. His request was denied, and thus, he was forced to quit.
This violates Title VII, since the employer didn’t make reasonable accommodations, even though it would have caused no harm to the business. Source
When thinking about our listing of wrongful termination verdicts from California, keep in mind that the bigger sums are caused by punitive damages. Punitive damages are handed out to prevent organizations from taking part in the same type of unjust act. Punitive compensation is especially rare. A large percentage of cases settle for about ten thousand to one hundred thousand dollars.
This unique directory of wrongful firing verdicts and settlements in CA is intended for informational purposes. Although you may feel resemblance to any of these examples, understand that each situation is unique.
What is the average wrongful discharge settlement in California?
It’s easy to understand that you might want to find out the amount of money you can expect to receive for your wrongful dismissal lawsuit. If you reach settlement (or win your trial), the total amount you are given is typically determined by these factors: lost benefits, medical costs, reason of termination, costs of finding a new job, lost earnings and mental anguish. Punitive damages could be awarded in rare cases, in the event the employer acted egregiously.
As you will observe from the sample cases in this article, presenting an average settlement for unlawful dismissal claims in CA is very difficult because every claim is different.
The average wrongful termination settlement in California is between $4,000 and $90,000. Lawyers can certainly be helpful while brokering a larger settlement.
The typical court or jury awards are higher, around $100,000 – $350,000. This is one of the reasons organizations like to settle before going to court.
Filing a wrongful termination claim in California
If you feel you had been discharged for an illegal cause, this is what to do.
First off, you should speak to a wrongful termination attorney in California to determine if you have got a claim worth pursuing.
Do not put it off, because there are certain cutoff dates to filing unlawful dismissal claims in CA.
Additionally, you’ll most likely need to submit a timely claim with the EEOC office in California. Depending on where you live in the state, you might belong to the LA District office, or the San Francisco District office.
Here are the steps you will need to take to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Even though employment-at-will is the prevailing form of employment in the USA, there are laws to protect employees against unjust discrimination and harassment.
WrongfulTerminationSettlements.com was created as a compass for people who feel they have been terminated wrongfully, or discriminated against at their workplace.