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Posted on August 21, 2020 | Wrongful Termination
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many industries to shift the way they conduct business on a daily basis to ensure the safety of their employees and their customers. Many people have transitioned to working from home thanks to telecommunication technology, but the change has not been easy for everyone. Current lockdown policies in place throughout Los Angeles and the rest of the United States exist to promote public health and safety. Some employers are, unfortunately, not giving their employees’ safety an appropriate level of consideration.
If your job situation changed in response to COVID-19 or you recently lost your job due to a COVID-19 related issue, you may suspect your termination was wrongful. A recent case filed in Los Angeles sheds some light on the concept of wrongful termination and how the current health crisis could potentially fuel wrongful termination claims in Los Angeles and beyond.
A Los Angeles woman recently filed a lawsuit against her employer, a clothing manufacturer based in South Los Angeles. She alleges in her complaint that she was wrongfully terminated after requesting to work from home to care for her father during the COVID-19 outbreak. The plaintiff accuses her employer of wrongful termination, retaliation in response to her reasonable health-related request, and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
The crux of the plaintiff’s case is the fact that she had been working from home for quite some time after her employer instructed all employees to work from home during the early weeks of the 2020 outbreak. The employer instructed employees to return to the office on May 28, but the plaintiff’s father had a compromised immune system; she did not want to risk exposing him to COVID-19. The employer granted her permission to remain working from home until she got her Coronavirus test results. During the interim, two of her coworkers at the office tested positive for COVID-19.
After explaining her situation to her employer, the plaintiff quickly received notice that she had been laid off after expressing her surprise that the employer was willing to risk the health and safety of themselves and their loved ones at home. The employer used “financial instability” as the justification for the layoff, but the plaintiff’s suit alleges the layoff was a firing in response to her request to work from home.
Most of the employment relationships in Los Angeles and throughout the United States function on the “at-will” basis. This means either the employee or an employer in a working relationship may terminate the relationship at any time, with or without notice and with or without a specific reason. This may sound like it allows an employer to simply fire an employee on a whim, but this is ultimately not cost-effective for any company. Instead, the at-will arrangement aims to prevent employee exploitation, allowing them to leave a job at any time they see fit.
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for a specific reason that violates that employee’s constitutional rights. Discrimination of any kind is illegal in the United States. In the recent lawsuit filed in Los Angeles, it is easy to see how the plaintiff can allege her firing was retaliatory, discriminatory, and wrongful. The suit also alleges that another of her coworkers was allowed to continue working from home on a part-time basis, thus reaffirming the plaintiff’s allegation that she was unfairly singled out.
If an employer terminates an employee for a discriminatory reason, such as the employee’s race, religion, or culture, or if the employer terminates an employee in response to a protected action like filing for workers’ compensation, the employer commits a wrongful termination. The wrongfully terminated employee likely has grounds for a lawsuit against the employer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) of the United States thoroughly investigates claims of wrongful termination, workplace harassment, and workplace discrimination. Working with a Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney is a good way to streamline the claims process if you must engage with the EEOC’s reporting services. Your attorney can help you prepare and submit your EEOC claim and determine your other available options for legal recourse. If the EEOC approves your claim, they will issue you a Notice of Right to Sue that allows you to pursue civil legal action against your employer.
Wrongful termination is an often-misunderstood legal concept. If you recently requested an adjustment to your working situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and your employer responded by terminating your employment, you could potentially have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you would like insight from an experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney about your situation, contact the Law Office of Omid Nosrati and schedule a consultation.