Category Archives:Wrongful Termination

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Pregnant Woman Fired For Premarital Sex

A San Diego woman is suing San Diego Christian College, alleging the school fired her once it was revealed she was pregnant out of wedlock. Teri James, 29, alleges she was let go from her job as a financial specialist at San Diego Christian college because her pregnancy revealed she had premarital sex.

Upon employment James signed a two-page long “community covenant”, a solemn agreement between the students and employees at San Diego Christian College, which outlined, among other restrictions, a covenant that she would abstain from sexual behavior and if she engaged in such behavior, she may face disciplinary action.
James claims that she was humiliated. She claims she was called into her supervisor’s office, interrogated about rumors surrounding her pregnancy, and subsequently fired when she confirmed that she was pregnant. Shortly after being fired, James’ position at San Diego Christian College was offered to her then fiancé, they are now married, even though it was known that he, too, engaged in premarital sex.
James is suing for wrongful termination in addition to gender discrimination and is seeking damages from the school in an unspecified amount. 
If you have been the victim of workplace discrimination based on you sex, gender, age, or race, contact Don Ho Law today for assistance with your case. Don Ho is an an experienced employment law attorney who can focus on your case and who will fight for you!
Published by Don Ho Law. Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California. 
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OC Probation Employees Fired

Six Orange County Probation Department employees were fired and an additional seven others were suspended after an investigation into security lapses at a juvenile facility, which was prompted by reports of two youths in custody having sex.

The details were released Friday in a report by Orange County’s Office of Independent Review, which said it had been monitoring the probation department’s “large and significant investigation into staff diligence” at a juvenile detention facility in Orange.

The investigation began after two teenagers were found having sex in one of the dormitories of Juvenile Hall’s Unit T when the “staff theoretically should have become aware of the issue as part of its routine monitoring protocols,” according to the report. During the internal investigations, officials found that routine checks were supposed to be done on minors every 15 minutes repeatedly were skipped in the high-security unit, where the most serious underage offenders are housed. The two offenders involved in the sex incident both had been arrested for violent, gang-related offenses but had been left unsupervised for hours in one of the rooms of the coed unit.
Since the incident, the man has since been transferred to state prison, and the woman was transferred to the county’s women’s jail.

The investigation also found that electronic logs meant to keep track of the checks “had been filled out inaccurately to cover for this lack of due diligence,” according to a previous report from the Office of Independent Review.
No claims or lawsuits have been filed in connection with the sex incident.

The report, signed by Office of Independent Review Executive Director Stephen J. Connolly, said the department responded “quickly and assertively” in its investigation. It identified 16 employees who had potentially failed in their responsibility to keep tabs on the youths in custody.

Of the 16 officers placed on administrative leave, two later left the department on their own. Four were found to have committed lower levels of misconduct and were allowed to return to work but were disciplined in the form of suspensions.

The department initially decided that the performance of 10 employees warranted termination, the report said.  But after an appellate process, three were brought back, although they faced “significant” suspensions. One person’s case is still pending.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is a criminal defense and employment law attorney in Orange County, California.

Judge Favors NASA Lab In Work Discrimination Case

English: The NASA insignia. Español: Insignia ...

A California judge has tentatively ruled in favor of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in a wrongful termination lawsuit brought by a former computer specialist, David Coppedge, who alleged he was singled out in part because of his belief in intelligent design.

Superior Court Judge Ernest Hiroshige issued a provisional ruling saying he was leaning toward finding in favor of JPL, which had argued at trial that David Coppedge was let go because he was combative and did not keep his skills sharp, not because of his belief that life is too complex to have developed through evolution alone. Hiroshige, who presided over the civil trial in April, ordered a final ruling drawn up and issued within 30 days.

Coppedge, a self-described evangelical Christian, had worked on NASA’s Cassini mission to explore Saturn for 15 years until he was dismissed in 2011.

His attorney argued that Coppedge was let go because he promoted intelligent design in the workplace, handed out DVDs on the theory and argued with a colleague about Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California. In his lawsuit, Coppedge claimed he was demoted in 2009 and then let go for engaging his co-workers in conversations about his views. Coppedge’s attorney argued at trial that a supervisor told Coppedge to “stop pushing your religion,” and that Coppedge was retaliated against for disputing a written warning and filing a lawsuit against the lab.

The case has been closely followed by intelligent design supporters, but Coppedge’s attorney maintain the one-paragraph tentative ruling should not be seen as a referendum on the theory. He has said, “it does not specify the court’s reasoning and it would be foolhardy to discern from its general language that the court had anything to say about the validity of intelligent design as a scientific theory or as a religious belief… We don’t believe it was about religious belief, but David’s co-workers perceived it as one and that’s equally offensive under the law.”

At trial, JPL attorney Cameron Fox contended Coppedge was a stubborn and disconnected employee who decided not to observe warnings to get additional training, even when it became clear the Cassini mission would be downsized and computer specialist positions eliminated. Coppedge often was confrontational and insensitive to customers and colleagues, who had complained about his behavior and his advocacy of intelligent design, Fox said.

Coppedge is active in the intelligent design domain and runs a website that interprets scientific discoveries through the lens of intelligent design. His father wrote an anti-evolution book and founded a Christian outreach group. Coppedge also is a board member for Illustra Media, a company that produces video documentaries examining the scientific evidence for intelligent design. The company produces the videos that Coppedge was handing out to co-workers.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the law forbids religious discrimination in the workplace when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment. An employer does not have to accommodate an employee’s religious beliefs or practices if doing so would cause undue hardship to the employer. An accommodation may cause undue hardship if it is costly, compromise workplace safety, decreases workplace efficiency, infringes on the rights of other employees, or requires other employees to do more than their share of potentially hazardous or burdensome work.

If you or someone you know believes they have a workplace complaint, call Don Ho Law at 714-748-7715 to speak with an attorney who can discuss your options with you.

Published by Don Ho Law.  Don Ho is an attorney in Orange County, California who practices criminal and employment law.

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14 El Monte Lifeguards Appeal to City for Jobs After Gangnam Style Parody Causes Termination

Official seal of City of El Monte

What was meant to be a parody video of the latest pop culture sensation, “Gangnam Style” by Korean Rapper Psy, has left 14 El Monte lifeguards without jobs.

The 14 life guards, employed by the city of El Monte, say they used break time to film their spoof, but the city of El Monte issued a statement the terminations occurred because there was “a clear unauthorized use of city-issued uniforms during the making of this unauthorized video.”

The fired lifeguards have since appealed to the El Monte city council to be re-hired, but this has turned out to be a fruitless endeavor. El Monte town hall had been packed with 250 people showing support for the terminated life guards.

“The punishment doesn’t fit the crime,” said fired lifeguard Michael Roa, “termination should have been the last plan of action, but it was the only action taken.”

The spoof of the viral video and subsequent terminations has caused such a controversy in the city that Mayor Andre Quintero has asked for an independent review of the situation. Once the independent review is complete, the decision on whether or not the lifeguards should be reinstated will lie with the city manager, Quintero has said.

Roa and his co-workers, college age students some of whom have spent several years working as life guards, have received multiple offers of legal representation and an outpouring of support from the public. A Facebook page has been created for the fired lifeguards, and Korean rapper Psy has even made a heartfelt plea to the city of El Monte to not fire the lifeguards.

As of yet, after several town hall meetings and an independent investigation, the 14 life guards have no been reinstated. The issue at hand is whether the lifeguards, who are at-will seasonal and part-time employees, whether the city was within its legal rights to fire the lifeguard or if the lifeguards were wrongfully terminated from their posts and if their due process rights had been violated. According to Roa, the lifeguards were only asked to read portions of the lifeguard manual before they were fired, and have had no chance to appeal.

In tough economic times losing your job can cause harsh financial problems for former employees, and may cause difficulty in seeking future employment. It is important to make sure those representing you an any legal dispute are well versed on current employment law and have experience handling employment disputes successfully. The attorneys at Le, Clark & Ho, LLP in Orange County and Riverside County, are well qualified to represent both employers and employees in labor or employment disputes.

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U.S. National Coach Sued for Wrongful Termination by Former Employee Dia Rianda

One of swimming’s most renowned coaches, Mark Schubert, is being sued for wrongful termination by a former employee, Coach Dia Rianda, in Orange County. Rianda claims she was wrongfully terminated by the former U.S. national coach after she became aware of abuse allegations in his Southern California club, Golden West Swimming Club (GWSC).

Schubert became the U.S. national coach after the 2004 Athens Olympics, leading the team through the Beijing Games, where Michael Phelps set an Olympic record with eight gold medals, but was mysteriously fired by USA swimming two years ago. No reason has been given for his dismissal, though Rianda said she was told by Schubert that he was let go because he knew of a two-decades-old abuse case and wanted to go public. Currently, Schubert is being accused of committing the same act, and turning his back on abuse cases closer to home.

Filed on Monday in Orange County Superior Court, the lawsuit claims Rianda began work at the GWSC last year after being hired by Schubert. The lawsuit alleges that Rianda became aware of sexual abuse allegation’s against a close friend of Schubert’s, Bill Jewell, and strongly objected to Jewel working at the club. The lawsuit further alleges Rianda was fired on July 11 because she continually alerted Schubert to “inappropriate behavior” by Jewell, a “volunteer assistant” at GWSC.

The lawsuit claims that an investigation began in January into Jewell’s action’s after Rianda passed on complaints she received about Jewell to Chuck Wielgus, the executive director of USA Swimming, and Susan Woessner, the organization’s director of safe sport. The lawsuit does not openly name a dollar amount Rianda is seeking, but Rianda stresses the purpose of the suit is to “change the culture of the sport”.

If you are an employee who believes they have been wrongfully terminated by their employer, the attorneys at Don Ho, LLP, can assist you. By representing both employers and employees in numerous cases, the attorneys at Don Ho, LLP, have retained a unique perspective in employment law matters and are able to successfully represent clients from both sides.

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