Employers in California have certain rules that they expect their employees to follow and when they do not they usually can fire that employee. Most of the time these are legitimate reasons, but in some instances, the employer is simply trying to find reasons to fire an employee to mask the real reason they are firing them. If the employer is simply giving false poor performance reviews or accusing the employee of doing something they did not do, it can be evidence that the employer is masking the real reason for firing them.
This is what happened to a former manager at a Chipotle restaurant. Chipotle stated that the reason they fired her was because they claimed she had stolen money from the safe. They even stated they had surveillance video of her doing it, but never produced the video. The manager then filed a wrongful termination lawsuit. The manager believed that they really fired her as retaliation for her filing a workers' compensation claim for a wrist injury. The jury in the case believed her and awarded her almost $8 million in damages.
This case highlights the lengths that some businesses will go to try and get rid of employees who are simply exercising their employment rights. In this case it was for filing a workers' compensation claim, but in other situations it could be for making a complaint about harassment, requesting accommodation for a disability, reporting a violation of the law or participating in an investigation and for many other reasons. It also shows the importance of collecting evidence to show that the employer's real reason for firing an employee had nothing to do with the reasons the employer provided as a basis for firing the employee.
The goal of most businesses is to make as much money as possible, so when employees do things that could cost them money, some will do whatever they can to get rid of the employee. This is true whether it means violating the employee's rights or not. However, if the employee proves the employer's true intentions, they may be compensated for all damages associated with the case including punitive damages. Experienced attorneys understand the complexities of these cases and may be a useful resource.
Source: www.nbclosangeles.com, "Ex-Chipotle manager gets $8 million for wrongful termination" May 13, 2018