Retaliation and Wrongful Termination

By: Meagan D. Christiansen

The Third Appellate District for the California Court of Appeals recently issued a decision that provides hope for those employers who unknowingly hire undocumented workers throughout California. In Salas v. Sierra Chemical Co., the court used the after-acquired evidence and unclean hands doctrines to bar Salas’ Complaint, ruling that undocumented workers are not entitled to recourse on a wrongful failure to hire claim, where they misrepresent their lawful ability to work in the first place.

Relevant Facts:

Vicente Salas was a seasonal worker at Sierra Chemical, a swimming pool chemical business. In 2006, he injured his back while working. After returning to work for a short time on modified duty, he reinjured his back when he was re-assigned to his regular duties. Following this injury, he brought a workers’ compensation claim against the company. In December 2006, Salas was laid off as part of Sierra Chemical’s annual reduction. In 2007 Sierra Chemical contacted Salas, informing him that he could return to work, provided he could establish he had received a medical release. Salas could not produce such a release and was precluded from returning pursuant to Sierra Chemical’s policies.

Continue Reading The California Court of Appeals Limits the Remedies for Undocumented Workers

With the TV networks cancelling daytime Soap Operas left and right, it seems up to the NLRB to provide us with our daily dose of drama. As has been previously reported here and in countless other articles, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB”) has been closely scrutinizing employers’ decisions to terminate employees for posts on Facebook. Until very recently, that scrutiny has universally led to unfair labor practice complaints having been filed against the employers, claiming the terminations were a violation of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”). Those cases have unceremoniously ended in settlement, without employers being able to obtain much guidance for the limits of future actions or gauge the cost and dangers associated with acting in response to employees’ Facebook rants. Employers were left to wonder whether all Facebook postings by employees would be considered protected activity by the NLRB.

Continue Reading LAW ALERT: As The Facebook Page Turns: The Continuing Drama Surrounding Employee Facebook Postings and the NLRA

Yesterday’s decision in Thompson v. North American Stainless (S.Ct. 1/24/11) illustrates that retaliation may now be the most employee/plaintiff friendly area in employment law.  There, a unanimous Court held that an employee, who was fired for his fiancée’s protected activity, was also protected by Title VII.

Continue Reading LAW ALERT: Jumping Off the Cliff – Supreme Court Expands Retaliation To Protect Employee for His Fiancee’s Protected Activity

The National Labor Relations Board recently created significant uncertainty about the permissible scope of an employer’s social media policy. The Board issued a complaint against an employer who fired an employee for posting negative comments about her supervisor on her Facebook page.

Continue Reading LAW ALERT: The NLRB’s Facebook Case: Employers Should Review Their Policies Dealing With Social Media

Modern-age advances in communications technology have brought both benefits and burdens to employers in recent times.  For example, email and the internet have greatly accelerated the pace by which employers may send and gather or receive vital information needed to stay competitive.  At the same time, those tools have, in some cases, distracted employees in ways that cut down on efficiency and productivity.

Continue Reading The Risk in Firing an Employee for Posting Negative Remarks on the Internet about a Boss