Retaliation, a California Labor Law Violation, on the Rise

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Oxnard, CA According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), retaliation claims are at a record high level, up 18 percent from 2006. The EEOC recognizes that this is mainly due to the current economic condition and warns employers to be aware of retaliation policies, along with anti-discrimination and harassment laws. One California woman believes she has a definite retaliation case against her former employer. "Someone needs to tell [my former company] that it is violating California labor law, particularly the retaliation policy," says Margie.

"This company is also violating ERISA and workers' compensation labor laws, and not just in my case," Margie continues. "There are many complaints about the company. I want the public to be aware that this is a less than reputable company; I would like to warn you not to work there and be careful if you have STD or LTD disability and workers' compensation disability through them. They practice denial, denial, denial - and I'm not just talking as a disgruntled employee.

"My story began when I was threatened with bodily harm by a co-worker. I had to sit opposite this girl??"I am a senior disability benefits specialist and she was under me. I don't know if she had it in for me because of my age (I'm 52 and a grandmother) or because she was jealous of my position. 'I'm gonna do a smack-down on you,' she said. In my book that means she is going to beat the snot out of me...

"I went to HR and they launched an investigation. I also made my supervisors aware of what was going on and they complained about her to HR as well. They physically witnessed her abuse to me. HR gave her a written notice about one week later, telling her to cease and desist. But she didn't and the problem continued.

"I requested a transfer so we wouldn't have to work together. I was in another department but the girl still wouldn't leave me alone??"or my son.

"HR told me to ignore her and soon afterward I went on vacation for two weeks. While I was gone this woman attacked my 22-year-old son, who also works at the company. After work she saw him in his car and she tried to pull him out. 'I want to kick your ass so get out of the car now,' she screamed, in front of several witnesses. I guess he was the next best thing to me!

"Apparently my son just looked at her and started laughing. He got out of the car and said, 'If you don't calm down now I m calling the police." He told her to 'bounce', which means get lost.

"They questioned everyone about this incident but still did nothing. When they called this crazy woman into HR she even made verbal threats to the HR person (who told me). That's when they decided to fire her. The reason she wasn't fired earlier was because her mother was one of the managers in the company.

"Four weeks after she was fired, in retaliation, one of the managers transferred me to her mother's department. I was a forced transfer and there wasn't any reason to do this.

"Moving forward, I hurt myself at work and exercised my rights for STD so I could have a cervical neck fusion. (I had continuous trauma due to lifting heavy boxes frequently, and holding a phone to my ear and trying to type at the same time). When I returned to work after eight weeks, I had physician restrictions: no overtime, no driving, no picking up anything up over 10 lbs.

"I'd had a year-end performance review for the prior year and it was a decent review. But about six months later I was given a final written notice with no prior notice of any deficiencies. Prior notice must give you a time frame: you have to improve within a certain period of time or get terminated. But I was never given any previous notices.

"In this final written notice, I was told that I have to work overtime. And they tried to force me to work overtime but I refused, citing my doctor's restrictions. I ended up taking workers' compensation disability due to stress, anxiety and panic because of this notice. I saw this as a form of harassment because I couldn't work overtime and retaliation by the crazy woman's mother.

"They really made things difficult for me. For example, upon my return from STD I requested one of the keyboard trays for ergonomic reasons. I was made to wait more than six weeks, even though other employees who requested it got it within a week. They used every trick in the book in an attempt to get me to quit.

"They see me as a liability to their company because I had injured myself.

"The day I returned from STD the claims director decided it was funny to see me in a neck brace and laughed at me. Nice. Bottom line: prior to my final written notice I always had stellar reviews and increases and promotions and I got a raise three months prior to this notice. I am now 'out' of the company and believe I have been fired, but they haven't the grapes to formally tell me.

"I left on stress leave in December 2008 and got paid benefits exactly one year later. I'm still getting workers' comp but there has been no communication from the company. In fact, I hired a workers' comp attorney in February 2009, who took the company to court because they wouldn't pay my benefits. My case went to court in December and the judge immediately ordered the company to pay my benefits. But I didn't get any back pay??"we are going back to court for that."

The California Government's Department of Industrial Relations states: "An employee or job applicant alleging retaliation or discrimination in violation of any law under the jurisdiction of the Labor Commissioner must file a complaint with the DLSE within six months of the adverse action. Adverse actions include unlawful discharge, demotion, suspension, reduction in pay or hours, refusal to hire or promote, etc."

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1 Comment

  1. Rev. Hartley A. Postlethwaite, IV
    May 8, 2012
    I found the above story very sad. It appears to be an ongoing case. I was looking on the Internet trying to find the source of Information I received that said some unions were working together, to correct some problems for permanently Injured Workers - caused by some law caused by Schwarzeneger when he was our Governor. Unlike the writer of your almost unbelieveable story - I am one of those whose case was settled in 1983, after I broke 38 bones in my back [Worked 3 days in great pain, as you can imagine], before the pain was so great I could no longer stand it and contacted a Doctor and got a 9:00 pm appointment. He looked at my back with his Office Equipment - and said some doctors might try to give you temporary relief. I'm afraid you have been hurt too greatly, saving that Truck Driver's life. I suggest that to find a surgeon with the proper qualifications, first thing tomorrow morning you go to Stanford Hospital (near our home) - as you won't find the person you need without better pictures than I can take. He was correct. My Daughter was in the Medical field and asked numerous surgeons - if you or a member of your family need a back surgeon specialist - to whom whould you go. 100%, said Dr. Lettice in Los Gatos. Lucky for his advice. Dr. Lettice did about 18 very long operations and really made life liveable. However,, the insurance company involved has disobeyed the Court order many times - costing us over $20,000 for things various doctors ordered - including their own. An example: After the last surgery Dr. Lettice performed in 18 years, he prescribed 3 months of massage thereapy, to lossen up the mess the accident had caused. I discovered after 3 months, when I called for my next appointment - I found they had used every excuse in the books not to pay him - claiming he was not filling out the monthly report correctly. I had choosen him, because he was new and very strong (I am 6' 3" tall, and at that time, in addition to my 22 years with Ceco doing all kinds of Construction wwork - and also had been a weight lifting instructor for smaller young people who were being beet up by bullies (WW II). Weight lifting had made me muscular and 232 Lbs (only 200 now). The long and short of it - because I originally had enough money to pay people who were being cheated - it has now increased to over $20,000 I spent, to stay an honest man. No longer can afford to do that and my pain level is almost back to where it was 46 years ago, when the Court gave the following "long range" judgement: " (C) - SUCH FURTHER MEDICAL TREATMENT AS MAY REASONABLY BE REQUIRED TO CURE OR RELIEVE THE EFFECTS OF THIS INJURY". Aat one point, they offered me $70,000 to sign-off the "further medical treatment..." The even tried a "Redundant Prolixity trick on me - no knowing my father was a famous lawyer (in Who's Who in America") and told me to watch out for 4 page documents that appear what you would want to sign - but on the 4th page - they take away something of far greater vaule that the one month Hospital Stay at Stanford's SCRIP, at the insurance company's cost - but something you should not sign would be on the 4th page. I was led to believe that Standord would discover the cause of my pain problems, all at the Insurnace Companie's cost. However, the last page stated clearly, that they would only take tests necessary to reduce the pain medication and under NO CIRCUMSTANCES would that include any repairs or suggestions. I noticed when I got home, the 4 page enumerated on the bottom last page "3 of 4" - was the last page I was to get. It would have violated the court order - and I would have lost all my future medical. When I refused to sign it - the last doctor they had assigned me - had lowered my 46 year daily pills by 100 per month. Doctors to whom I have spoken - as say that is way to large a drop in 6 to 8 weeks. Anyone who could help me find who is actually pressing for Court Action to stop such tricks - to help me with the name of who I should contact and how. Because of my Ministerial work - I am able to call anywhere in the US at no extra charge. One of the things my wife and I did these 46 years - was to travel around the country to give free lessons to light Aircraft Search and Rescue pilots. We saw an article in the paper that the worst winter on record - over 4,000 survivors of crashes could not be sought - due to incorrect proceedures - than most any truly Active Ham operator would know. When we found that you cannot teach many old dogs new tricks (in those 5 expensive years), but when we started talking to the Government about changing from the VHF BEEPER, to the new GPS technology and changing the law so that when a plane crashed - the GPS would send the exact Lat/Long of the crash - to our Satellite System and from their to the nearest Rescue Station. The Navy loved it, as in the past, the beeper would sink in around 20 minutes - now a fast big Jet could go to the exact location and drop a rubber life raft. The Navy started it in 2000 (my Navy pilot son told me) and the rest of the free world population became law the next year. We donated everything and no longer have money to hire a lawyer - no that the insurance company doctor has "fired me". I'v given my e-mail address - if whoever is in charge of this feels we are worth it. Having been a boss the last years of my working career - I really felt for the lady and her family in your story. PLEASE HELP US. I only have about two weeks medication left and suffer more every day.

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