Earlier this month, a complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Cisco Systems Inc. by a woman alleging she was subjected to wrongful termination after she requested maternity leave in advance. The complaint was filed by Diane Woodruff on June 24 alleging a violation of the Family and Medical Leave Act, wrongful termination, and failure to pay overtime among other counts.
According court records, the plaintiff notified her supervisor that she was pregnant and requested to take family leave in July. She further alleges in the lawsuit, that she was given a two weeks’ termination notice from the defendant. Ms. Woodruff asserts that she was told by management that she was given the termination notice because of a lack of business growth and that the company was having challenges with their budget.
A wrongful termination occurs in California when a discharge from employment is motivated by an unlawful reason. It is unlawful and impermissible to terminate an employee for any of the following:
- Pregnancy or maternity leave
- Use of Family Medical Leave
- Physical disability
- Mental disability
- National origin
- Religion or religious practices
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Political affiliation
- Constructive termination – creation of a hostile work environment
- Retaliation for complaining about unpaid wages or overtime
- Retaliation for reporting illegal conduct of the employer
It is true that California is an at-will employment state. An employer can still be held liable for wrongful termination if the termination is in contravention to public policy. If you were recently terminated from employment and you believe it was for one of the above reasons, you should contact a wrongful termination attorney to discuss your legal options.
Aiman-Smith & Marcy is a wrongful termination law firm located in Oakland, California that represents workers who have been unlawfully discharged from employment. Contact us to see how we may be able to assist you.