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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2009

    Default Fired for Whistle Blowing Unsafe Working Conditions - Can I Claim Workers Comp

    My question involves labor and employment law for the state of: CA

    I changed names below for privacy purposes.

    I was hired in July2008 as a Marketing Manager at a small software company in CA with approx 200 employees. After the 1st 3 months I had learned that my boss, Milenda had anger management issues. She was very moody, and had a very nasty tongue. Not only that but she wasn’t very good at her job. At times she would call me and my co-worker into her office and verbally abuse both of us. Donna, the CMO and the lady that hired Milenda, knew very well that Milenda had a tendency to be very nasty and abusive toward other employees. Donna was also overly protective of Milenda, so much so that Donna was responsible for two of Milenda’s colleagues to be removed from the corporate marketing department b/c they could not get along with Milenda (one was fired and the other was moved to another department).

    The corporate marketing intern, Madeline, happened to be the CMO’s best friends daughter and since she was still in school and was graduating from undergrad in Dec2008 they had not offered her a full time job yet. Madeline was working part time and had showed herself to be very incompetent. Towards the end of December, Milenda announced that Madeline would be coming on board full time. I was of course concerned because I was wondering where they got the budget for that. I asked HR, and they had not offered her a fulltime position yet. Little did I know the CMO’s devious plan to outsource my job to India, fire me and then hire Madeline full time.

    On Tues. Dec. 16, 2008 I was told by Milenda that our boss (CMO) had decided to outsource over 60% of my job to our India office. I was very concerned about losing my job, so that evening I sent an email to Milenda re: the decision and wanted to know what responsibilities I would be given in replacement. Milenda scheduled a meeting for Dec.18th 2008 with my supervisor (CMO) and the manager of the India team so we could discuss this decision to outsource my job. I had prepared a very professional presentation (ppt diagrams, slides) but the CMO never showed up and as a result Milenda lost her cool and created a very hostile environment, so much so that it caused me to have a “situational anxiety” attack. She never answered any of my questions, did not give me any new job responsibilities and instead demanded that I sit and teach the India manager the process. She yelled at me and insulted me. I was very scared, vomited at work, and could hardly breathe so I excused myself from work and called my sister to come pick me up b/c I couldn’t even drive. I called the doctor that same day and with his advice due to my sick condition I stayed home until I could be seen in person by a doctor. I went in for a Doctors visit that following Tuesday Dec23rd.

    When I reported the incident to my employer via email and finally went back to work on January 5th, my employer demanded a doctors note and instantly deducted the three days that I was absent from my paycheck (all other days were work holidays during that time period). I was reprimanded for reporting the incident. Donna said that Milenda was going stay as my manager and their was nothing I could do about it. At this point, knowing Donna would dodge bullets for Milenda, I chose not to focus the incident on Milenda but instead on the miscommunication we had. I said I thought the meeting was to be about the decision to outsource whereas Milenda thought is was about me teaching the India manager the outsourced job. I said nothing bad about Milenda, just that she lost her cool. They said they had already started an investigation and that the India manager said that none of what I explained to happen via email actually happened. I stood by my word and said I would try my best to work with Milenda (if she could get past this incident, but she never did)

    Donna sent me an email with some other jobs I could work on in the meantime but told me that my #1 focus should be finalizing the outsourcing job to India. On Tuesday January 6th, my boss had a private meeting with me to discuss the new responsibilities Donna had given me. She once again verbally abused me. I let it pass b/c I wanted to focus on doing my job so I jumped right into my new job duties and sent updated notes on a regular basis to Milenda. I scheduled a meeting with the India manager and finalized the transition of the outsourcing process the very next day. That following Thursday, my boss scheduled another private meeting with me but I requested for someone from HR to be present at the meeting so she wouldn’t be able to verbally abuse me again. Since the quarterly business reviews were coming up next week (Monday and Tuesday), she gave me a ton of work (knowing very well that I was suppose to volunteer that day and help out with the annual holiday party my company had that evening). I accomplished my tasks and attended the party tired and worn out. That Friday she worked me to death again by forcing me to assist my co-worker on a project. I never took a lunch break and I had to work during the weekend to finish the project she assigned to me Friday afternoon.

    On Monday January 12th, I was called in at the end of the day by out HR rep and the CMO. Donna said they were terminating my employment b/c it wasn’t working. I had nothing to say b/c the decision was already made. I have 21 days to sign a release that says I won’t sue them and to accept their severance pay.

    Some other pertinent info:

    - I was never given any performance reviews even though I requested them.

    - I was never given any warnings, and I never signed anything for being reprimanded for the incident (even though it was out of my control)

    - I chose to be professional, polite and to do my job to the best of my ability and I continued to act in this manner even after the incident.
    - I am 31 years old.

    - I couldn't go into work those 3 days because I had extreme body pain and got a horrible migraine (have a medical history and am taking meds for this) that is triggered from severe stress that was caused by being verbally abused by my boss.

    - My boss created a hostile work environment that can also be interpreted as creating an “unsafe working environment” Everyone that works/ed with Milenda are/is just waiting for her to be fired (she is known for responding very harshly to all her colleagues and subordinates, but changes her tune to a happy one when it comes to the executives). Other employees would constantly come and ask me to give my boss things so they wouldn't have to face her, because she was and still is a "Bully". Others wanted me to be their savior and get this verbally abusive women fired. I didn’t want to report my boss but was somehow forced to as a result of getting physically sick from her behavior. I was fired for bringing to management’s attention the unsafe working condition she created; I became the victim of becoming a whistleblower.

    Questions I have:

    Can I file a workers compensation claim for those 3 days I was absent? (was employed there for approx 6months)

    Was I wrongfully terminated? (It says in the contract I signed that the employment is “at will” and I can be fired with or without cause)

    Should I sue and if so what can I sue them for?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Fired for Whistle Blowing Unsafe Working Conditions - Can I Claim Workers Comp

    If you believe you have a valid whistleblower's action for wrongful termination, get your case reviewed by a lawyer ASAP. The statute of limitations on whistleblower cases can be extremely short - under some statutes, as little as 30 - 90 days.

    Even assuming you had a compensable injury for worker's compensation purposes, wage loss benefits start after three missed days of work or an overnight hospitalization. You say that you missed only three days.

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