CALIFORNIA BASKETBALL COACH CLAIMS RETALIATION AFTER RETIRING

A former San Diego State University women’s basketball coach is seeking compensation from the school after allegedly being fired for demanding fair treatment. The woman claims that the retaliation occurred because she was demanding equal treatment for women’s sports programs at the school. The former coach, who boasts more wins than any other women’s basketball coach in the school’s history, was also embroiled in a scandal after allegedly striking one of her assistant coaches. She was told that she had to retire, resign or be fired after allegedly striking the subordinate.

The woman has filed a lawsuit against the school, arguing that a breach of contract occurred when she was fired for complaining about the status of women’s sports at the school. She said she regularly complained about the major differences between financial and infrastructure support for women’s and men’s basketball program. The men’s program ostensibly received better housing, staffing, equipment and facilities than those provided for the women. The coach said she spent a significant amount of her own money to pay for staff and team needs.

The woman said she was facing increased pressure to leave her job after she allegedly struck the assistant coach during a game in 2013. She first struck the man’s clipboard, and video shows that she appears to hit his shoulder later in the game. She said she did not intentionally strike anyone, and she was forced to retire in order to save her pension.

Now, the woman said she not only lost money because she was forced out of her job, but her professional reputation has also been so damaged that she is virtually unemployable. Victims who have been unfairly targeted because they speak out about inequality should not have to worry about retaliatory actions from their employers. A California employment attorney may be able to assist victims who have been subject to unfair retaliation for reporting misconduct.

Source: NBC 7 San Diego, “Ex-Basketball Coach Beth Burns Files Wrongful Termination Lawsuit” R. Stickney, Feb. 19, 2014

OFFICERS ALLEGE RETALIATORY ACTIONS AFTER INMATE ALTERCATION

Two California corrections officers accused of perpetrating an inmate assault have been relieved of their duties by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Office. The two men, ages 28 and 30, lost their jobs after allegedly abusing an inmate who was facing allegations of rape and murder. Although law enforcement officials have supported the firings, family members of the officers say that the pair was fired after filing a complaint about unsafe conditions.

So far, both of the men have pleaded not guilty to charges of assault by a public officer in connection with the altercation. They could spend as long as three years in custody if convicted. Their next upcoming court date is scheduled for mid-May.

The two officers are accused of using excessive force when the alleged victim began to resist during a transfer from his holding cell. One of the men was able to wrestle that victim to the ground, though he quickly called for backup because he was struggling. The other defendant is accused of arriving on that scene and delivering three aggressive knee strikes to the victim’s legs. The incident was caught on camera, and it lasted for approximately 15 seconds.

Witnesses to the incident said that the officers used appropriate force when subduing the victim. A sheriff’s investigation, however, found that the pair used excessive force. That assertion came even after two California Highway Patrol officers who were witnesses to the incident have allegedly testified in court that they didn’t believe the corrections officer had done anything wrong. However, the victim complained of pain in his upper body several days after the incident. He transported to the hospital, but it’s not known if the victim was alleging that his pain or injuries were related to the incident with the corrections officers.

Even government employers have been known to retaliate against workers who are involved in filing a complaint about workplace safety or other concerns. California attorneys know that these employees have rights that should be protected in court and in the workplace. People should not lose their jobs if they follow workplace policy; these two men argue that their actions were correct, and they are supported by several other sources. An employment attorney may be able to help such victims learn more about their legal options after retaliatory actions such as a pay cut or wrongful termination.

Source: Santa Barbara Independent, “Sheriff Fires Jail Guards Accused of Assaulting Inmate” Tyler Haden, Apr. 10, 2014

HOSPITAL WORKER TURNED PATIENT SUFFERS DOWNSIZING AFTER SURGERY

A California hospital administrator who suffered as a patient and then reported the misdeeds claims that he suffered retaliation after a botched surgery. Reports show that the man, who had worked for Kaiser for nearly three decades, suffered serious injury when he underwent an outpatient bronchoscopy procedure. However, major complications that occurred during that procedure left the man with serious injuries that required several more surgeries to repair. When the man revealed several patient safety concerns because of the experience, he became the target of retaliatory actions.

The man said that he met with the hospital’s senior vice president of quality and risk management during the summer, about four months after he was able to return to work. The man said he broached concerns including lack of appropriate staff and resources, poor emergency transportation options and violation of medically accepted standards of care. Further, the man alleged that he had not been informed when his treatment deviated from acceptable care protocols. In addition to meeting with the higher administrator, the man also submitted his claims in writing.

Instead of working together to solve the problems, Kaiser administrators forced the man to remain silent about the surgery concerns while at work. He was fired in late October after his position was reportedly eliminated. The plaintiff in this case has filed lawsuits for wrongful termination, along with violations of state safety and health provisions.

Workers who are simply attempting to improve the quality of service provided by their own organizations should not be victimized by such unfair actions. Employees who have been punished by demotion or downsizing because of filing a complaint may benefit from the help of a California employment attorney. These professionals may provide additional information about legal and financial options after a retaliatory incident.

Source: Courthouse New Service, “Nearly Killed, then Fired, Kaiser Manager Says” Tish Kraft, Mar. 21, 2014.

OIL COMPANY ACCUSED OF RETALIATORY ACTIONS, RACISM

California employees have the right to express their unique cultural heritage by wearing work-appropriate clothing that suits their tastes. As long as the clothing complies with corporate dress code, everyone should be permitted to wear culture-specific clothing that makes them feel comfortable. One California oil executive claims that she was ousted from the company, though, because she chose to wear non-traditional outfits to work. Even though the woman’s clothing ostensibly complied with corporate policy, she was repeatedly told by supervisors that her personal appearance both offended and intimidated other workers. The woman is seeking compensation for the retaliatory actions that ultimately cost her job.

The suit alleges that supervisors and managers told the woman that she made her colleagues uncomfortable because she chose to wear traditional African garb known as a dashiki. The woman also chose to braid her hair in a variety of styles that suited her taste; this was similarly scrutinized. In fact, those same supervisors – who replaced her with a less-experienced white man – told her that she should limit her cultural clothing to “culture day” or Black History Month celebrations.

Even more egregiously, workers in a petroleum plant reportedly tied a noose and hung it while the woman was visiting the plant. British Petroleum argues that the rope was misinterpreted, and workers had simply been using it for practice tying knots, but the woman still felt threatened because of the negative implications of the symbol. A variety of other offensive comments also preceded the woman’s dismissal from work, which was reportedly initiated because she did not get along with others on the job. Interestingly, peers had provided positive feedback about the woman just months before during a comprehensive performance review.

Women and minorities deserve the same access to quality professions as all other Americans. In this case, the woman was so harassed that she was ultimately forced out of her workplace simply because she was seen wearing ethnic clothing and filing a complaint against her workplace oppressors. These personal attacks on an employee’s character or job record are never warranted, and they should be punished.

Source: 
www.courthousenews.com, “BP accused of racism by fired top executive” Jamie Ross, Dec. 05, 2013

WORKER FIRED FOR REPORTING UNSAFE ENVIRONMENT

Social workers and other mental health professionals are particularly vulnerable to patient threats because of the populations they consult. Now, one California woman is claiming that she was subject to retaliatory actions after she took independent actions to protect herself from a potentially violent patient. The woman, who had been a social worker for Kaiser Permanente, must still produce additional evidence in order to have her case considered, according to a federal judge.

The woman claims that she had been working at Kaiser in 2011 when another therapist revealed that her patient wanted to murder the plaintiff. She then approached her employer with the information in an effort to get a restraining order against the patient, who had revealed his desire to kill the social worker during couple’s counseling. Hospital officials did not take her complaints seriously, however, and administrators simply told her to forget about the problem. Next, she was subjected to disciplinary action because she had supposedly violated the patient’s medical privacy by talking about his therapy session with the other provider.

Finally, the complaint alleges that the woman was falsely accused of sending a suicidal person to a hospital without an escort. These disciplinary actions were used as an excuse to fire the woman in May 2012 after she reported an unsafe working environment.

A judge in the case did not seem to understand how a lack of a restraining order would provide a safer environment for patients and workers at the Kaiser facility. In addition, Kaiser contends that the woman failed to take appropriate administrative action in connection with the case, and she did not attempt to appeal the disciplinary action before filing a lawsuit.

Frankly, many employees are not aware of the various options available to them that could improve their personal safety. Additionally, workplace appeals can take months, and the woman could have languished without work while the disciplinary committee reviewed her case. A lawsuit is sometimes the only way to get the attention of a negligent employer.

Source: 
www.courthousenews.com, “Kaiser worker’s retaliation case needs work” Matt Reynolds, Sep. 20, 2013