Plaintiff employee sought review after the Superior Court of Los Angeles County (California) entered a judgment of dismissal as to defendant employer and defendant supervisor. Plaintiff alleged that defendants fired him for having protested an unauthorized deduction from his wages in violation of public policy
California Business Lawyer & Corporate Lawyer, Inc. can explain CACI Punitive Damages
In a claim for wrongful termination and wrongful infliction of emotional distress, plaintiff employee appealed from a judgment of dismissal entered in favor of defendant employer and defendant supervisor. Defendant employer withheld money from plaintiff’s paycheck to cover half the cost of towing a van, without plaintiff’s written consent. Defendant refused to give plaintiff any more assignments and fired plaintiff two months later; two weeks after plaintiff asked why defendant employer had stopped giving him work and why defendant employer had made the payroll deduction. The court reversed and remanded as to defendant employer and affirmed as to defendant supervisor. The court held that there was a fundamental and substantial public policy protecting an employee’s wages. That protection included freedom from retaliation for having protested an unauthorized deduction. Plaintiff’s claim for emotional distress was not precluded by the exclusivity rule; it was part of the damages for wrongful termination. The court affirmed as to defendant supervisor because a wrongful termination action was grounded in the employment relationship and defendant supervisor never employed plaintiff.
The court reversed and remanded as to defendant employer and affirmed as to defendant supervisor in a claim for wrongful termination and infliction of emotional distress. The court held that the prompt payment of wages was a fundamental public policy, which could serve as the basis for a wrongful termination action grounded in public policy. The court reversed as to defendant supervisor because defendant was not plaintiff employee’s employer.