Most California employees hope that their employers are honest and law abiding. While most employers probably are, some are not. When employers don’t follow laws, it is likely that employees will see the violations. In these instances, employees may want to report the violations or ask their employers to comply. In other words, employees may act as whistleblowers.
When an employee engages in whistle-blowing, that employee is protected from retaliation under California employment laws. Therefore, an employee cannot be fired for whistle-blowing. If an employee is fired in retaliation for whistle-blowing, then the employee may bring a wrongful termination suit.
Recently, a former cast member on the popular television show “Storage Wars” has filed suit claiming that he was wrongfully terminated. In this case, the man says that he was fired after complaining to the show’s producers about the show being rigged. He claims that he was complaining about violations of the Communications Act of 1934 which prohibits rigging broadcasts that rely on the contestants’ intellectual skills.
The show’s producers, on the other hand, argued that he should not be allowed to file a wrongful termination suit since they were just exercising their creativity by eliminating him from the show. They say that a suit like this would infringe upon their freedom of speech. Finally, they argue this is nothing more than a breach of contract case.
The judge recently sided with the former cast member. The judge agreed that this is an employment law case and will allow it to continue as such. The case can now move forward to trial, where the man will ask for $750,000 in general damages and for punitive damages.
In wrongful termination suits, employees may be able to get damages to compensate them for the losses they have suffered because of their termination. People should make sure they understand their legal rights following a termination.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter, “Fired ‘Storage Wars’ Star Wins Round in Rigging Lawsuit,” Eriq Gardner, Sept. 3, 2013