My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: California
I worked for an employer that is direct deposit payroll only. We were required to obtain a checking account to support the payroll function. The President forgot to submit payroll to the accounting firm responsible for our payment / deposit. When I woke up in the morning my checking account was empty...actually it was in the red, and I had no gas in my car. I had no real means to buy gas as I had not been paid on time. I was a salary employee and classified as exempt. (If you don't know what this means please look it up prior to responding). My work day starts at 8 AM. I called into the employer's office at 6:30 AM in the standard fashion that I had used to call in for the last 5 years and obviously giving the employer ample notice. I reported to the employer voice mail that I had no money, no gas, no idea why I had not been paid and that I needed someone to call me today to let me know what was going on. I said I would not be in on that day but that I was going to try and scrounge up some cash for gas and that I would be in the following day. This message was carbon copied to the required voice mail accounts and all the appropriate staff were notified. I did not consider this any type of HR complaint, though I was extremely upset regarding the issue. At 10 AM I had not received any notice to either my work cell, my work pager, or my personal cell directly from the employer. I contacted a fellow employee and she reported that no one had been paid yet but that she was informed that I no longer worked for the company. I contacted the President directly and, unknown to him, placed the call on speaker. My finance, who also worked for the same company, was listening into the conversation. I asked the employer if I was fired, he said "yes", I asked him "why because EDD would ask", he said it was "because I did not come into work" to which I replied, "even though I called in" to which he replied "yes". I immediately disconnected the call and filed a retaliation termination suit with a lawyer and the Labor Board. I have never been counseled for excessive time off verbally or otherwise. I have never been written up for any misconduct issues. All of my evaluations were satisfactory or better. I was paid everything I was owed, technically on time, with a printed check. I was also given pay for 1 weeks vacation on my final check so I know that I had time off on record to take.
I gave my reason to the EDD as per the conversation with my former employer. My employer filed an appeal to benefits with the EDD stating that I was fired for malicious destruction of company data; I am / was an IT Consultant. I have already had my interview with the EDD which is how I learned of the deception. I explained to the EDD interviewer that I had no idea what the claim was about and categorically denied all accusations.
I have added defamation to my law suit. I am anticipating an appeal to a denial of benefits just in case I have to meet with a judge and I wanted to get some opinions as to my chances or if there is another angle I should be considering. My witness is obviously willing to testify under oath.
Thank you in advance.