Two police officers who were acquitted of criminal charges in a beating death may not get their jobs back. In total, three men were fired from a West Coast police department for the death. One of the men was not involved in the trial. Still, all three were dismissed from their former jobs. All three men had made appeals to be reinstated after they were fired. One man has also made an informal wrongful termination claim, though it does not appear that a civil case has been initiated.

City council members in the town have been threatened with recall if they reinstate the officers. Violent protests have even broken out because of the officers’ acquittal. The city council will provide the final decision in the employment matter. The officers have a right to consult an independent arbitrator. That entity will submit a report to the council for consideration.

The men may still face criminal charges from the Federal Bureau of Investigation for potential violation of the decedent’s constitutional rights. The men are accused of beating a homeless man to death in 2011. Statements from the department police chief indicate that the men were not fired because of the criminal proceedings. That man said he had used other criteria to terminate their employment. He also intends to ‘vigorously defend’ his decision.

Even though the men were acquitted in the case, they still lost their jobs. The police chief did not explain in detail why the department had a legitimate cause for termination. Employees should not be subject to discrimination simply because they were involved in a criminal trial. Those who have been acquitted in a criminal trial should enjoy employment protection. Qualified Florida employment attorneys may be able to help workers who think they were fired without a legitimate cause for termination.

Source: Daily Titan, “Police chief will not rehire officers involved in Kelly Thomas beating, council will make final decision in appeal” Samuel Mountjoy, Jan. 22, 2014


A former energy company worker has received more than $1 million in a California claim for wrongful termination. The 44-year-old man, a former employee at PG&E, said he was fired after making complaints about safety concerns on the job. Jurors in the case agreed that the company did not have a legitimate cause for termination of the man’s employment. The man received nearly $1.1 million in connection with lost wage claims, along with lost benefits allegations and those for emotional distress.

Official reports show that the man became concerned about on-the-job safety after he was ordered to take unsafe actions during an electrical pole repair in 2011. The man’s supervisor told the power line workers and his colleagues to repair the power lines without shutting off the electricity to the poles. However, the high-voltage wires nearly touched during the repair. Had that occurred, a massive explosion could have occurred.

Even though no one was hurt in the incident, it could have been considered a safety near-miss. Further, another PG&E crew had opted out of doing the work because they found it too dangerous. The man also alleged that another crew was permitted to shut down the electricity on the very same line when they did maintenance just weeks later.

As a result, the man filed a safety claim with the company, and he told officials that he felt unsafe on the job after that time. Understandably, the man was afraid to go to work, suffering from panic attacks and even crippling anxiety. The man was given a month-long hiatus from work, but he was fired when he refused to come in during his off time to discuss his absence.

The utility company plans to appeal the judgment.

Workers in high-risk positions – such as utility line workers – deserve to feel safe at work. This employee felt that his safety was not a concern to his supervisors, so he suffered a variety of ill effects, including losing his job. Victims of retaliatory discharge may be eligible to file a wrongful termination claim to recover damages, as the man did in this case. No California employees should be afraid of on-the-job injury.

Source: Santa Cruz Sentinel, “PG&E worker wins $1 million in Santa Cruz wrongful termination lawsuit” Stephen Baxter, Dec. 15, 2013