Wrongful Termination Lawsuit Filed in California

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San Francisco, CA A former senior sales manager for Oracle Corp has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit alleging Oracle’s firing of him violates federal and California labor law. Although most employee firings are not violations of California labor code or federal labor code, this lawsuit alleges the plaintiff was fired because of his national origin and in retaliation for his taking a stance on employee rights.

According to Bloomberg (1/10/14), Ian Spandow, who is from Ireland but working in California for Oracle on an L-1 visa, was a senior regional manager in database sales. His lawsuit claims that when he tried to transfer an Oracle employee in India to California and requested the employee be paid what white employees were paid, Spandow was told to offer the employee less money.

When Spandow complained about that directive, he was allegedly fired. Spandow alleges his firing constitutes unlawful discrimination based on national origin and further alleges he was fired in retaliation for complaining about how he was told to treat the employee from India.

Although employees can have their employment terminated for no reason, it is illegal to fire someone for discriminatory reasons, such as national origin, race, religion and sexual orientation. Furthermore, it is illegal to fire someone in retaliation for complaining about working conditions, including unsafe conditions or issues with pay.

In December 2013, a former employee for PG&E was given a $1 million award in his wrongful termination lawsuit. The plaintiff, a former power line worker, alleged he was fired from his job for complaining about unsafe working conditions. According to the Santa Cruz Sentinel (12/16/13), Matthew Niswonger had been told by supervisors that he and his team had to replace a broken electrical pole without shutting down power.

Although no one was hurt during the work, Niswonger says there were close calls and he later learned that one other crew turned down the job because they felt it was too dangerous. Subsequent work done by other crews on the same pole was done with the power off. Niswonger complained about safety issues at work and, in September 2011, was fired.

The jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him almost $600,000 for lost wages and benefits, and another $500,000 for emotional distress. A spokesperson for PG&E, however, has said the company will file post-trial motions.

The lawsuit is Spandow v. Oracle Corp., 14-cv-00095, in the US District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).

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