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$3.6 million award for employment discrimination by retaliation

A wrongful termination suit in California, which is filed on behalf of an employee against the former employer, may be based on federal or state law, depending upon the facts and issues involved. In some instances, the employee may base an employment discrimination case on both state and federal statutes that have been violated. One general principle of employment law is that it is illegal for the employer to retaliate against an employee who is a legitimate whistle blower or even one who simply tries to report illegality to the employer.

Laws regarding retaliation are evolving nationwide, and it is generally true that remedies are expanding regarding the volatile issue of reporting employer illegalities. In another state recently, a jury verdict awarded $3.6 million to a therapist who complained of being fired for reporting patient neglect to her boss. The lawsuit papers indicate that the plaintiff mental health worker complained to management that the mental health facility faced issues of improper administering of medications, overdoses because of self-administration of medication, and prescription irregularities.

This award was reportedly the largest in North Carolina history from a wrongful termination case. The therapist’s attorney stated that the issue was retaliation against a mental health worker who tried to report employer wrongdoing. The plaintiff, who was terminated in Jan. 2009, claimed damages for loss of earnings and earning capacity, mental and emotional distress, medical expenses and miscellaneous losses.

The CEO of the facility stated that it will not appeal the decision. He simply indicated that despite their beliefs of acting correctly, a jury had found otherwise. The same result in an employment discrimination case with these facts is likely under California law. 

Source:, “CooperRiis to pay $3.6 million in wrongful firing lawsuit“, Mar. 9, 2016