WRONGFUL TERMINATION OF SOUTHGATE OIL REFINERY WORKER WHO COMPLAINED ABOUT SAFETY
On or about Friday April 13, 2007 Employee was working on a sulfuric acid tank at the Chevron refinery in El Segundo California along with a co-worker named Co-worker.
Monday morning, April 16, 2007 Employee told the Director of Human Resources and the wife of the owner of the corporation, that Employee thought he was injured because he has a rash on his arm. Director of Human Resources told Employee to call his supervisor.
Supervisor told Employee to have co-worker take Employee to a company doctor Defendant sent their industrially injured workers to. Employee is informed and believes that the doctor specializes in injuries to oil refinery workers. Co-worker said he also had a rash and also sought medical treatment at the doctor. On April 16, 2007 both Employee and co-worker sought medical treatment for the rashes they sustained as a result of their work at the Chevron refinery on April 13, 2007.
Employee's visit to the company doctor prompted an investigation into the injuries by both Defendant and Chevron. Additionally, the doctor reported the industrial injuries as the Labor Code requires. The investigations determined that Defendant had furnished their workers the wrong kind as well as inadequate safety protections for the work Defendant's employees had to do at the Chevron refinery.
On or about April 18, 2007 Supervisor suspended Employee. The owner of the company was also involved in that decision. Employee contends that the suspension was illegal and retaliatory because Employee reported his industrial injury and it became known Defendant was providing inadequate safety gear.
Following Employee's suspension he took a preplanned vacation for approximately 2 days. When Employee returned to work April 30, 2007 he was terminated by supervisor and the owner.
Employee was terminated for the following statutorily prohibited reasons:
- pursuing worker's compensation benefits through his medical treatment for the industrial injury, and because he was an industrially injured worker. NOTE THIS IS NO LONGER A MEANS OF SUING FOR WRONGFUL TERMINATION;
- as a fall guy to make it look in front of Chevron like somebody was terminated for not having the right protective gear. Employee alleges had he not made known his injury and sought medical treatment for it, the termination would not have occurred. Additionally, Defendant knowingly had Employee working with the wrong protective gear, failed to furnish him the right gear, and that was their safety dereliction;
- terminating Employee because his visit to the doctor launched a safety investigation that amongst other things did not resolve favorably for Defendant.
The Employee is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges that said Defendant to this cause of action terminated the Employee's employment in violation of the following and expected him to work in violation of the following statutes:
- failing to provide Employee with a safe place of employment and safety devices as required by California Labor Code Sections 6400, 6402, failing to provide safety devices as required in 6401, 6403, 6404, 6406(d), and then suspending and terminating Employee because he became injured as a result and sought treatment covered by worker's compensation. NOTE: SEEKING WORKERS COMPENSATION TREATMENT IS NOW LIMITED TO WORKERS COMPENSATION RELIEF IF THERE IS A JOB TERMINATION OR RETALIATION. HOWEVER, IF THE WORK INJURY IS ALSO A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION UNDER THE FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT, OR IS A DISABILITY WRONGFUL TERMINATION AND RIGHTS OUTSIDE THE WORKERS COMPENSATION SYSTEM EXIST;
- failing to provide necessary information about the correct safety gear as California Labor Code Section 6308 requires and then terminating Employee because he did not have safety gear the company did not provide it;
- California Labor Code Section 6409 whereby every physician who attends to an injured employee must report every occupational injury. This was done, Defendant got in trouble for not having safeguards, and suspended and then fired Employee. This created a system by which an employee could not seek medical treatment for an industrial injury without being discriminated against and terminated.
- California Labor Code Section 6310 prohibiting discharge and discrimination because an employee has participated in a health and safety committee under Section 6401.7, or caused to be instituted any proceeding relating to his rights about safety as occurred when Employee complained of his injury, went to the doctor, and investigations were launched over the fact Employee had been provided the wrong safety gear;
- the letter and spirit of California Labor Code Section 6300 enacted for the purpose of ensuring a safe and healthful work environment and encouraging employers to provide training about such. Here, instead of providing safety training so Employee knew what to wear, Employee was suspended and then terminated. Here, instead of providing a safe and healthful work environment, Defendant failed to provide adequate training or safety gear and then terminated Employee after becoming injured as a result;
- California Labor Code Section 6306 for failing to provide safety equipment to Employee and other workers and then terminating Employee because he became injured as a result and it became evident that Defendant was providing the wrong safety equipment which would not have been known of had Employee not reported his injury and the investigation did not start as a result;
- exposing Employee to hazardous substances as exposure is defined under California Labor Code Section 6370 and then suspending and terminating Employee because the exposure made him ill, he went to a doctor, and received medical treatment covered by worker's compensation;
- California Labor Code Section 132a that declares it is the policy of the State that workers injured in the scope of their employment shall not be discriminated against, and that there shall be penalties to employers who do so;
- California Labor Code Section 1102.5(c) because Employee was refusing to participate in activities that would violate the statutes specified in the above paragraphs in this wrongful termination lawsuit.
Employee had a legal right to seek medical treatment covered by worker's compensation. Employee also had a legal right to report an industrial injury and unsafe conditions. Defendant did not allow Employee to exercise those rights because they suspended and terminated him for exercising those rights thereby requiring him to work in a work environment that was illegal and he could not do anything about it. The violation of 1102.5(c) was also a violation of Labor Code Section 1103 which makes 1102.5 an important public policy because it has criminal penalties, and 1102.5(f) provides for penalties.
WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE RESULT: AROUND $76,000 IN 2014 DOLLARS
LOS ANGELES NON-PROFIT WELFARE TO WORK CASE WORKER WRONGFULLY TERMINATED
Employee was hired by the Defendant on or about March 6, 2000 as a welfare to work coordinator for Defendant earning $38,000.00 per year. Within the first six months of the Employee's employment at said Defendant she received a $4,000.00 a year increase in salary. Employee was also promoted several times during her employment with said Defendant and obtained a salary increase to $50,000.00 per year by the time of her termination of employment on or about November 29, 2000.
Defendant is a non-profit corporation in the business of providing "one stop" centers for unemployed individuals and persons on welfare to look for employment. In providing these services, Defendant's employees meet with welfare to work candidates and unemployed persons, provide them services relative to helping them transition back into the work force and/or find work. More than half of Defendant's revenues are then derived from public funds and grants which pay Defendant, based upon services and meetings Defendant's employees provide, and reports and invoices submitted to the government for payment.
On or about October 16, 2000, Employee was on a one day vacation out of town. When she returned that evening, she received a telephone answering message from Bad High Level Executive, Defendant's Executive Director. The message stated that the auditors (from the County) were at Defendant's Gardena site where Employee worked and that Employee should come to a meeting about the audit the following morning. Employee, and Defendant's other employees, were aware of an ongoing County audit, but this was the first time in Employee's employment she was aware that they had come to her particular site.
On or about October 17, 2000, Employee was handed a memo, dated 10-16-00, from Bad High Level Executive stating that certain things were missing from 19 of Employee's welfare to work files. The items missing were mainly counseling notes and resumes for Employee's clients. Also on October 17, 2000, Employee was handed Employee a memorandum from Bad High Level Executive stating that she and Co-worker, Program Manager, had "corrected" Employee's files.
On or about October 17, 2000, Employee realized that "correcting" Employee's files meant falsifying information in the files Beavers expected the County Auditors to see. These corrections included adding notes about meetings, follow-ups, etc. with clients that never occurred and placing Employee's initials, or another employee's initials next to these notes. Interestingly, these new notes were precisely what the October 16, 2000 memorandum indicated were missing.
On October 17, 2000, Bad High Level Executive also asked Employee to add information to the files about events that never transpired. Employee questioned the veracity and propriety of doing this and Beavers' response was "are you being insubordinate with me?"
On or about October 17, 2000, following the insubordinate comment, Employee was sent home to work on a corrective action plan. This did not make any sense being that the County auditors were at her site and she should have been there to answer questions. Obviously, it was necessary to have Employee out of the way if questions came up about the falsifications, or other fraudulent practices of Defendant.
Given the strange circumstances, Employee began suffering severe stress and ended up being out on stress leave from October 19th through November 19th.
On or about October 24, 2000, Employee wrote a memorandum to Bad High Level Executive, Co-worker, and Government Fund Scam Artist, CEO of Defendant. The memorandum accuses Bad High Level Executive and Dial of ordering a group of people to falsify information in Employee's files. It also states that when Employee asked Bad High Level Executive how she was supposed to deal with the new information and reports suddenly in her files Bad High Level Executive told Employee to "amend" the reports that had already been submitted and were ultimately to be seen by the government for the purpose of the government providing Defendant with payment. The memorandum goes on further to state that when Employee said she did not feel comfortable putting false information into the files to make them "correct" she was accused of being insubordinate. The memorandum states that this conduct was illegal "and supports the allegations of the investigation." Finally, the memorandum accuses the Defendant's executive director of putting false information into Employee's files to the point that the auditors could find fraud.
On or about November 20, 2000, Employee went back to work and was told by Government Fund Scam Artist that she could take a demotion to welfare to work case manager at a smaller, East Los Angeles site, with a salary decrease, or quit. Employee, however, accepted the case manager position. Upon accepting the position, Employee was sent home and told to come back the next day to interview for the position. However, Employee ended up being put on paid leave, by Owner of Company, from November 21st through November 27th because she was "making serious charges."
On or about November 28, 2000, two events occurred: 1) Employee reported to work and found out that she would be a resource center manager if she wanted to remain with the agency. Employee holds a master's degree, and this is a position that does not even require a college degree. Moreover, it pays considerably less than Employee had been earning at Defendant and was considered a clear demotion; 2) Employee wrote another memorandum to Government Fund Scam Artist. The memorandum indicates that during a November 20th meeting with Employee Owner of Company was under the impression that Employee had sent the October 24th memorandum to the auditors, and that Employee had the option of resigning from the agency. The memorandum further stated that Owner of Company had said that she thought there would be problems if Employee returned to the Gardena site and she would feel intimidated by co-worker. The memorandum also states that on November 20th Employee told Owner of Company that everything in her 10-24-00 complaint letter was true, that employees had put false information into the files, that the Executive Director told Employee these reports were used for invoicing, and when Employee questioned the Executive Director on these practices she was told that she was being insubordinate. Moreover, Owner stated that it was common for people to go back and put information into the files to which Employee responded "but not false information." Finally, the memorandum stated that Employee thought she was being demoted for submitting the October 24th complaint letter and having an anonymous conversation with the County Auditors.
On or about November 29, 2000, Government Fund Scam Artist gave Employee a letter stating that Employee's employment with Defendant was being terminated for on November 20, 2000 accusing Defendant's executive director and staff member of being fraudulent, and then on November 27, 2000 giving Government Fund Scam Artist a letter accusing the executive director of engaging in improper actions.
The Employee is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges that said Defendant to this cause of action terminated the Employee's employment in violation of public policy by terminating Employee for complaining of conduct that violates public policies affecting society at large as follows:
- terminating the Employee because Employee complained that Defendant falsified documents which would cause them to fraudulently obtain government funds thereby causing Defendant to be knowingly or recklessly making false claims for State and Federal Funds in violation of California Government Code Section 12650, Et. Seq. known as the California False Claims Act and 31 U.S.C. 3729, Et. Seq. known as the Federal False Claims Act. Employee further alleges that Defendant's money, although often paid through State or local grants was partially derived from Federal funding. By changing Employee's files to reflect services never rendered, Defendant was creating a false record or statement to get a false claim paid or approved by the state or political subdivision in violation of California Government Code Section 12651. This information was then transformed onto numerous other false records, some sent to the government, all subject to audit by the government including the County Auditors, and used to justify the payment of funds Defendant was not entitled to because services had not been rendered to the extent Defendant falsely claimed. Employee further alleges that California Government Code Section 12653(b) was violated by Defendant demoting, suspending, threatening, harassing, discriminating against Employee, and terminating her for her lawful acts in trying to prevent false information from being sent to the government for the purpose of Defendant obtaining payment they were not entitled to;
- Defendant violated the intent behind California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 11325.4 "Welfare-to-work" legislation whereby the county is allowed to contract with private agencies to deliver welfare to work services. The purpose of the welfare to work programs is to provide services to welfare recipients to enable them to enter the work force. By Defendant falsifying Employee's records to claim that services were provided to welfare to work recipients that were not provided Defendant was seeking to be paid as a private agency for services that were not rendered and should have been rendered thereby defeating the purpose of the act which was to provide services, meetings, and follow-ups, for a price, in order to get the welfare recipients back to work. Therefore, the entire public policies behind the Welfare to Work legislation known as California Welfare & Institutions Code Section 11320, Et. Seq. were ignored and defeated including the public policy of contracting with honest, reliable private agencies, and Section 11320.31's requirements that the welfare to work recipients must follow through with the terms of the program, or not receive benefits. If the Employee's clients were refusing to follow through with the program and that is why Employee's notes reflected they were not present, the recipient should have been removed from the program. Moreover, the Act at 11327.4 has specific provisions about what must be done if a recipient is failing to attend to appointments, and by defendant fraudulently stating that the individual did attend the appointment Defendant was defeating the public policy behind the Welfare to Work legislation which was designed to monitor welfare to work recipients, make sure they are making progress, make sure they are using their resources, and cause them to have follow-up meetings on their progress;
- the above described conduct also violates the public policies behind California Unemployment Insurance Code Section 10200 which deals with the Job Training Partnership Act, GAIN, California Unemployment Insurance Code Section 5200, Et. Seq. known as the Work Incentive Legislation, California Unemployment Code Section 9600, Et. Seq. which includes section 9605 allowing the State to approve and pay for private publicly funded job training and placement programs and Section 9610 which allows the State to make contracts with private job training and placement programs to maintain these objectives, and other extremely important public policies relating to providing public funding to cause the California workforce to be more productive, and for workers to work rather than receive state subsistence including unemployment benefits;
- California Government Code Section 38000, Et. Seq. which allows the Department of Health and Welfare Agencies to make contracts and approve the payment of services, and audit entities getting these contract payments;
- 29 U.S.C. 1501, Et. Seq. known as the Job Training Partnership Act which allows federal funds to be used to get adults into the labor force and into productive employment. By doing what is described in the above sub-paragraphs in this wrongful termination lawsuit, Defendant defeated the purpose of this legislation;
- California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 by engaging in unfair, false, and deceptive trade practices by falsely stating that Defendant saw clients when they did not when their competitors do not do so, and are only paid government resources for work that they actually do thereby increasing their costs and making it more expensive for them to provide the services Defendant provides and bid on grants and other perform services for which they are paid public funding;
- California Civil Code Section 1710 by creating knowingly false records and statements aimed at defrauding the government into believing that Defendant served clients and complied with regulations when they did not;
- all other state and federal statutes, regulations, administrative orders, and ordinances which effect society at large, and which discovery will reveal were violated by all named and DOE Defendants by retaliating, harassing, discriminating against the Employee, and firing Employee.
The Employee alleges that said Defendant, and all DOE Defendants, violated articulable public policies, affecting society at large, by violating the statutes and the California Constitution, as described in the above Paragraph of this wrongful termination lawsuit, when said Defendant terminated and retaliated against the Employee in violation of public policy by terminating Employee for the reasons stated in the above paragraph of this wrongful termination lawsuit. Specifically, the Employee alleges that said Defendant's violations of the above referred statutes affect society at large by:
WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE RESULT: ABOUT A $147,600 SETTLEMENT ON THE SECOND DAY OF JURY TRIAL & A Employee WHO DECIDED TO CHANGE CAREERS TO AVOID FURTHER FRAUD
- defeating a complex, comprehensive joint venture with government and private non-profit companies to provide worked related services in an important, heavily debated public policy of providing unemployed persons and welfare recipients with resources so they can re-enter the job market, or lose government subsistence;
- unfairly competing by failing to do the work required under public mandates and causing their competitors, who do the work, to make less profit and not be able to competitively bid or assume these government contracts;
- taking public resources when Defendant was not entitled to do so;
- circumventing the auditing function and penalty process of the County of Los Angeles, and other branches of government, by creating false records so Defendant would not be subject to censure for failing to comply with governmental regulations and requirements.
ENCINO FINANCIAL WHISTLEBLOWER WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE
The Employee is informed, believes, and based thereon, alleges that said Defendant to this cause of action terminated the Employee's employment in violation of public policy by terminating Employee because of his age over 40 which violates California Government Code Section 12940 and 12941 and/or also for complaining of the following conduct that violates public policies affecting society at large as follows:
a. as the Chief Financial Officer of Defendant, Employee had to deal with Defendant's tax issues. Employee raised the following issues as being problems:
- many of said Defendant's shareholder/officers/partners were receiving very generous car allowances. Given the amount of money of these allowances, Defendant needed to report these payments as taxable events meaning the shareholder/officer/partners should have been taxed on these benefits, but were not.
- Owner of Company had been passing large personal expenses through the company for at least three years. These expenses were not business expenses. If Owner of Company desired compensation equivalent to these expenses, he should have been taxed on the receipt of that money as income. Additionally, the corporate Defendant was not entitled to use Owner of Company’s personal expenses and business deductions thereby lowering their tax liability;
- Defendant was doing several things wrong in respect to sales tax. Defendant was not paying sales tax on a quarterly basis, nor were they doing electronic filings for sales tax receipts in California, or Texas. Customers were being invoiced for transactions that included tax, but Defendant was not turning over those sales taxes during the same quarter they invoiced customers. In many instances, this lead to Defendant never turning over sales tax to the State of California. Additionally, Defendant was collecting quarterly tax for Canadian sales, but not paying Canada for those sales in the correct period of time.
- Defendant was not paying City of Los Angeles business taxes when Defendant was required to do so because they were operating in the City of Los Angeles. Employee advised Owner of Company these taxes had to be paid, wrote a check for them for Company Owner's signature, and then complained to Company Owner when he refused to pay these taxes.
When discussing the issues identified in the above sub-paragraphs of this financial whistleblower lawsuit, beginning in January of 2004, Employee first discussed them with Company Owner, then the board, and then got called into individual meetings by the shareholder/partners (High Ranking Executive, High Ranking Executive 2, High Ranking Female Execute #3, and Partner to discuss these issues. It became evident that the shareholder/partners were angry with Company Owner about these issues especially his charging of personal expenses to the corporation in an attempt to avoid paying personal income tax. Employee said that IRS rules and regulations were broken by engaging in these practices. Employee alleges that his complaints about these practices were a factor in his termination of employment by Company Owner.
Defendant's dealings with sales taxes violated a variety of statutes and regulations. Defendant is a seller of tangible personal property to ordinary consumers. By not paying sales taxes during the same quarter the sales were invoiced, Defendant would carry the sales tax into another quarter. Because there was no invoice in that quarter for an amount justifying the sales tax taken in during the previous quarter, that money did not get paid to the government as sales tax collected by Defendant. Essentially, Defendant was collecting 8.25% for sales tax from customers, but not paying that money to the State of California. The same thing happened in connection with sales to other states as well as other countries including an incident with a Canadian customer in which approximately $30,000.00 was collected for sales tax. Employee contends that the practices described in this cause of action amounted to tax evasion because it was not clear income taxes were paid on these extra revenues. Defendant's tax evasion violated Section 7152 of the California Revenue and Taxation Code leading to criminal penalties under Section 7153-7153.5. because Defendant falsely and fraudulently, with an intent to deceive, defeat, and evade signed returns and tendered returns that inaccurately stated the amount of their gross sales, the amount of tax collected, and the amount of tax due. These practices also amounted to a fraud on customers in violation of California Civil Code Sections 1572, 1709-1710 because money was collected for alleged sales tax, but it was never turned over to the government thereby violating California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 6051 imposing sales tax on goods sold by retailers. California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 6451 states that sales taxes are due and payable to the Franchise Tax Board on a quarterly basis. Defendant violated this section by failing to pay collected taxes to the Franchise Tax Board on a quarterly basis. The public nature of Section 6451 is expressed by Section 6452 providing fines and criminal liability for a violation of Section 6451. Other statutes such as California Revenue and Taxation Code Section 6471 make further provisions about the requirement that businesses like Defendant make quarterly tax payments. Additionally, Section 6479.3 of the Revenue and Taxation Code was being violated because, as Employee was complaining to the individuals identified above, this section requires businesses collecting revenue of more than $20,000 per month to electronically transfer funds to the government for the taxes they collect;
WRONGFUL TERMINATION CASE RESULT: SUING EMPLOYEE FOUND ANOTHER JOB AND ENTERED INTO A CONFIDENTIAL SETTLEMENT WITH OLD EMPLOYER
- b. California Civil Code Sections 1572, 1709-1710 by Defendant engaging in unfair, false, and deceptive trade practices by charging customers for sales tax not paid to the government as well as by failing to timely, if at all, turn over money to the government for money collected from customers for taxes.
- c. California Business and Professions Code Section 17200 was violated because Defendant's competitors were not keeping the extra 8.25% charged to customers for state tax that should have gone to the government as taxes. By keeping this extra money, Defendant was able to unfairly compete with their customers by charging less because they did not pay sales tax revenues to the State that they collected;
- d. California Labor Code Section 1102.5(c) because Employee was refusing to participate in activities that would violate the statutes and regulations specified in this cause of action as being violated if Employee continued to have to work for Defendant as their CFO, but knowingly assist in these statutorily prohibited practices. Moreover, California Labor Code Section 1103 was violated because Employee was fired for complaining in violation of section 1102.5(c);
- e. 26 U.S.C. 6671-6672 because Defendant's conduct was aimed at failing to pay taxes and evading corporate taxes as well as Company Owner's taxes as an individual;
- f. 26 U.S.C. 162 was violated because said section allows "necessary business expenses" to be deducted from corporate income taxes. Defendant was running Company Owner's personal expenses through the corporation which were not proper corporate deductions. Likewise, Federal Tax Regulation 1.162-1 was violated because Defendant was attempting to make improper corporate tax deductions;
- g. 26 U.S.C. 6701 because Defendant's conduct had the effect of underestimating tax liability, and Employee did not want to be an aider or abetter in a violation of this statute;
- h. Federal Tax Regulation 31.3121 defines wages and this definition is incorporated into Internal Revenue Code Section 3231e stating that compensation paid to employees is taxable. However, Defendant gave their employees generous car allowances and did not tax their employees on those benefits;
- i. Federal Tax Regulation Section 26.6663 was violated because there is an imposition of a penalty if there is an underestimation of tax;
- j. California Government Code Sections 37100.5 and 37100 authorize cities and the legislature to license and tax revenues on businesses within a city. The City of Los Angeles did so, Defendant was responsible for paying City of Los Angeles business taxes for operating in the City of Los Angeles, did not do so, and Company Owner became angry at Employee for advising these taxes had to be paid and complaining they were not paid.