California Labor Law: Discriminated Against and Dismissed

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Sacramento, CA Not only was Violeta wrongfully terminated; she was treated like a criminal and fired in the company's parking lot. "I am 57 years old and a Fillipino woman??"this new boss is bringing in students in their early 20s who work on call," says Violeta. He may be saving money for the company but it cost Violeta her livelihood.

"Getting fired really surprised me, we were all getting along at work," says Violeta. She worked for three years as a senior cook in the food services department for the Navy, Army and Marines. Everything was fine until two months ago when she got a new boss.

Kitchen Discrimination"I basically run the kitchen, especially when the manager is not there," she says. Which means that she has to give orders. "The boss cut back everyone's hours back except mine," she says. "They were working less than 30 hours a week and I continued to work 40 hours. This created a lot of tension and resentment. My co-workers filed complaints about me and one boy said that I pushed him. Another assistant said that I harassed them-but I was just telling them what to do??"that is my job.

After I explained everything to Rick, my boss, and I wrote everything down, he talked to the people who complained. The next day, Rick told me that this boy was on probation.

The following week, my boss said that he got another complaint and had to suspend me. After three days, he called me at home at 8.30am and asked me to come in at 10.30. 'Am I going to wear my uniform', I asked. 'No', he said. I was very worried about the outcome and asked my aunt to come with me. My boss and one of the cooks were waiting for me outside in the parking lot. He handed me my jacket and termination papers. No check.

'For the good of the company, I have to let you go,' he said. That was all. I was so shocked that I couldn't reply. He wanted me to sign the termination papers but my aunt told me not to sign anything.

He told me to bring my uniform back and call Rosa at HR in Los Angeles to determine how many hours I worked. Instead I went to the labor board and they said I don't have to call HR. Besides, it is long distance. The labor board tole me that my boss was supposed to have my check ready when I was terminated. The labor board said they would take care of it--that was May 5, 2008.

I think Rick fired me because he is bringing in new staff from his last restaurant job, such as the boy who said I kicked him (he was recently hired). I worked at this company for three years and I don't deserve this treatment. The soldiers even wrote me letters saying how hard I worked??"I kept the letters. I am owed more than $2,500: two weeks work and one year's vacation pay.

Meanwhile, I am trying to find work. I have missed a mortgage payment and now I am afraid that I might lose my house. I don't have medical insurance and have high blood pressure; getting fired has made me desperate. My aunt and I wrote to the labor commission and the governor, saying that I was wrongfully terminated and that they treated me like a criminal. Why did they fire me in the parking lot? I am so upset."

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