A California worker has recently won $2.1 million from his former employer. According to reports, the man was a supervisor for a California electrical company. While in the position, he claims that the company had policies where low-income people were targeted more frequently with late fees and delinquent notices. He reported the conduct, which he believed was illegal.
Shortly after reporting this behavior, the man claims that he was fired. The company claims that the man broke company policies and that other workers complained about his behavior. The man, on the other hand, says that he was fired in retaliation for whistleblowing about the delinquency notice policy.
Following his termination, the man filed a lawsuit claiming wrongful termination. The jury agreed with the man and awarded him $1.3 million in punitive damages and $860,000 in compensatory damages. The company says that it will appeal the verdict.
Under California employment laws, it is illegal for companies to terminate an employee for whistleblowing. Employees need to know that they have the right to report illegal activities by their employers without fear of losing their jobs. If employers choose to retaliate against whistleblower employees then they — like the electrical company in this case — can be punished in civil lawsuits.
Employees who feel like they have suffered a wrongful termination should not be afraid to exercise their legal rights. They can receive compensation for the damage they have suffered, including for past and future lost wages. In some cases, they may even be able to get their job back. Punitive damages may also be available in certain situations.
Source: KFMB, “Ex-SDG&E employee awarded $2.1M in lawsuit,” March 26, 2014