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Blue and White-Collar California Employees Wrongfully Terminated, National Labor Relations Board Assists

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While Goodwill employees prevailed in wrongful termination lawsuit, Walmart is accused of similar California labor law violations.

Santa Cruz, CAIn October 2015, two Spanish-speaking employees of Goodwill Central Coast were fired for reporting to their manager that another manager harassed them and threatened to kill one of them. Finally their case has been settled: a National Labor Relations Board judge ordered they be reinstated, with back pay. Also in federal court, Walmart is accused of wrongful termination and retaliation, both California labor law violations.

The National Labor Relations Board judge found that Goodwill Central Coast unlawfully fired the two forklift drivers and they accepted over $90,000 in total settlements. (The National Labor Relations Act protects employees acting together to improve their workplace conditions against employer retaliation.) As well, Judge Etchingham ordered a notice to be posted at Goodwill in English and Spanish for 60 days, saying the following:

“The National Labor Relations Board has found that we violated federal labor law” and informing them federal law gives employees the right to form, join or assist a union, choose representatives to bargain and act together with other employees for their benefit…We will not terminate you for talking to your co-workers about your wages, hours and other terms and conditions of your employment including complaints about supervisors in other departments and/or making allegations that a supervisor threatened you.”

Goodwill has reinstated both men and, according to the Santa Cruz Sentinel, both men loved having that sign posted on the wall. “I was happy we won,” Jesus Fernandez said. “At times we are afraid to say anything and we stay quiet. It’s better to say something because we have rights as workers.”

Walmart Wrongful Termination

A former director of business development at Walmart knows his rights and he too has said something. Tri Huynh claims that Walmart wrongfully terminated him after he raised concerns – on several occasions—about the company’s “overly aggressive push to show meteoric growth in its e-commerce business by any means possible -- even, illegitimate ones.” Bloomberg (March 16) reported that Huynh’s lawsuit, filed in San Francisco federal court, accuses Walmart of whistle-blower retaliation, retaliation, failure to prevent discrimination, and wrongful termination.

Huynh, who worked at Amazon before he joined Walmart in 2014, alleges that he warned his superiors and Walmart’s ethics department that if “Walmart did not properly address these issues, its failure to do so could have serious long-term implications for its critically important e-commerce business.” Those issues are mislabeled products so that some third-party vendors received lower commissions, failure to process customer returns and allowing offensive items onto the site, according to the lawsuit. Huynh claims he was told to stop raising such concerns, but he chose to bring them to the attention of the e-commerce chief early last year and he was “abruptly terminated”, just one day after a retail-industry publication said the was one of the sector’s rising stars. Over the past few years Walmart has invested heavily in an attempt to catch up with Amazon in e-commerce, perhaps by “ any means possible—even, illegitimate ones,” claims Huynh.

National Labor Relations Board and Walmart

Back in 2014 the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against Walmart, accusing the company of unlawfully firing workers after they participated in nationwide protests and strikes seeking higher wages. The NLRB accused Walmart of making unlawful threats of retaliation to employees, twice on national television and in statements at specific stores. The National Labor Relations Act protects all workers, blue collar and white collar, union and non-union, whenever they engage in specific activities such as protests concerned with better work conditions and wages.


California Labor Law Legal Help

If you or a loved one have suffered losses in this case, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an employment law lawyer who may evaluate your California Labor Law claim at no cost or obligation.


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