Most California employees are at-will employees. This means that they can be terminated by their employers at any time without reason or prior notification. However under state and federal employment laws, there are certain situations which the employer does not have the right to terminate an employee. A termination based on illegal discrimination or in retaliation for whistleblowing is not allowed. In other words, these are generally wrongful terminations.
In this case, the nurse claims that she reported violations of safety and staffing laws to California officials. The woman believed that the hospital was not staffing enough nurses on certain cardiac monitoring units. The state substantiated the woman's complaints that the hospital had not strictly followed the staffing rules in a report sent to the woman.
Two months after the report was issued the woman was fired from the hospital. Eventually a union arbitrator agreed that the woman had been wrongfully terminated. The arbitrator required that she be reinstated to her position. While the woman was reinstated, she claims she never received benefits to which she was entitled and therefore brought suit.
A suit for wrongful termination can help provide some justice for employees who have been fired for an illegal reason. In addition to holding the employer responsible, the employee can receive damages to recover expenses created by the wrongful termination. These damages can include compensation for lost wages and benefits, back pay and other costs. People may also have the opportunity to be reinstated to their former position.
Source: Appeal Democrat, "Whistle-blowing nurse sues Rideout," Harold Kruger, May 22, 2014