Losing a job is a personal and financial hardship. If you suspect you were unlawfully terminated, you can fight back. Part of our job as legal counsel for those who suffer discrimination or retaliation on the job is to bring their experience to light and help obtain justice.
With some exceptions, employers and employees in California have the right to terminate their employment relationship at-will. However, California law has avenues for those who suffer in discriminatory or hostile workplaces.
In July, Jessica Ortega filed suit claiming sexual harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation as a result of her experience while working at the Pacific Dental Clinic at the University of Pacific. After complaining to appropriate authorities and the Human Resources (HR) department, the Stockton woman noticed her workload increased and her formerly positive job reviews turned negative. She was eventually terminated.
Ms. Ortega reports aspects of her employment at the clinic, including:
Her supervisor, Dr. Howard Chi made numerous sexually charged comments. These included comparisons between surgical scrubs worn by Ms. Ortega and undergarments owned by his girlfriend.
Because she has children, Ms. Ortega did not complain for several years for fear of losing her job.
Other employees experienced similar treatment to Ms. Ortega and complained to HR. Ms. Ortega made numerous complaints about Mr. Chi, her direct supervisor.
Ms. Ortega notes, “[n]o one ever had the guts to speak against him because he's the director of a clinic and no one will ever say anything against a person who has power.”
Extraordinary discrimination occurs every day to people who want to live ordinary lives.