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Former firefighter sues department for wrongful termination

A wrongful termination trial is beginning in California. In this suit, a former firefighter has sued his former employer claiming that he was wrongfully terminated after he fought to expose a sex scandal within the department.

According to the suit, the 45-year-old man learned of a sex scandal in which another fire department employee claimed that she had been forced out of her job after engaging in sex acts with other firefighters. While some of these sex acts were consensual, others were not. Following an investigation, the woman was given over $500,000 and the internal investigation was concluded.

However, the man in this suit wanted to pursue criminal charges against the individuals involved in the sexual acts. The department did not. When the man pushed the issue, he was fired. He sued for wrongful termination but was eventually reinstated to his position after binding arbitration. However, upon returning the man says he faced retaliation from people within the department so he continued the litigation.

The fire department claims the man was fired for illegally tampering with electronic files in an unrelated case being handled by the department.

Under California and federal employment laws, employees cannot be fired for reporting illegal activity. Those employees that engage in whistle blowing cannot be fired, harassed or retaliated against for reporting illegal behavior to the authorities. Employees should never put up with illegal behavior that should otherwise be reported out of fear of losing their jobs.

If an employee is fired for whistle-blowing, then that employee may have a claim for wrongful termination. Those employees that have been wrongfully terminated may be entitled to compensation including back pay and other damages.

Source: The Sacramento Bee, "Sac Metro sex scandal is backdrop for wrongful-termination trial," Denny Walsh, June 10, 2013

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