California employee sues after he is fired for letter to editor

A California man is suing his former employer after being let go from his job as a hospital manager. According to the man, his former employer, the Glendale Adventist Medical Center, broke employment laws by firing him for statements he made in a letter to the editor that was published in a local newspaper.

In the letter, the man criticized a new city ordinance that allowed smoking on public patios under certain conditions. The man claims that following the letters publication, three of Glendale City Council members called the medical center and persuaded the hospital to fire the man. When questioned by his employer, the man said he wrote the letter in a personal capacity and was let go shortly thereafter.

In response, this man sued the hospital and the Council members for wrongful termination among other charges. He is seeking punitive damages.

In most situations, California residents are employed on an at-will basis. This means they can be fired for almost any reason and without any notice. In fact, employers are not required to even have cause to fire an at-will employee. However, employee laws protect California employees for being fired for unfair or discriminatory reasons, including retaliation. If the man was voicing his own opinion without leveraging his professional, choosing to fire him for taking a stance on a public issue may be in violation of state law.

As such, the man will need to prove that some law was broken when he was terminated. He will need to show some sort of discrimination or unlawful conduct on behalf of the hospital. If his claim is successful, then he may be entitled to damages resulting from the incident.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Conspiracy in Glendale, Hospital Worker Says,” Elizabeth Warmerdam, Dec. 27, 2012

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