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socrateaser
socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 33795
Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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My Grandson was terminated today. Termination of Edward

Customer Question

My Grandson was terminated today. Termination of Edward xxx from xxx Resort xxx Resorts is a large resort and restaurant company with several locations including a local complex in xxx, California. Total employees – 860 Local employees – 416 We believe Employee Policies drafted by attorneys in concert with the Vice President TITLE Employee Manual section on drug and alcohol abuse policy includes zero tolerance clauses. A separate document states that employees suspected of drug or alcohol abuse will be tested immediately. Both documents require signatures of a new employee. On (Date) ,Edward Cartwright was promoted to the job of supervisor of all the food outlets at the Escondido complex including responsibility for the (54 - 67) food outlet employees and the financial performance of the food outlets. He was provided an offer letter that included an explanation of salary ($45,000), benefits and a definition of a bonus arrangement that indicated that he had earned 50% of his salary prior to the date of his termination. August 3, 2011. Cartwright was terminated by his supervisor, NAME TITLE, and NAME, HR Supervisor although they stated that the decision was made by “upper management” and that would be NAME, VP Operations. Cartwright was terminated for “an outrageous lack of judgment”. They told him that his bonus would not be paid, there would be no severance package and no company paid health insurance. He was told that if he would resign rather than being fired then they would not oppose his unemployment – so he did. At prior recent meetings the HR Manager had told xxx that xxx is to be suspended for three days (and he was) for failing to call Security after an employee admitted he reported to work “high on pot”. xxx had instead sent the employee home and suspended him for three days. The incident happened at TIME (WAS HR STILL THERE). xxx had an Employee Manual at his desk but had no recollection of the separate document that included the statement that the employee would be tested that he signed when he was hired eight years earlier. Other relevant facts: All three supervisors involved in the termination all have themselves violated and continue to violate the Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy on nearly a daily basis by buying xxx employees alcoholic drinks and drinking with those employees. A significant number of employees participated in or witnessed this continual abuse of the drug and alcohol abuse policy by top management. Which of those lower level managers was supposed to call Security and have the top managers tested?xxxt knows of no written procedures that require managers to call Security to have an employee tested for potential abuse. Other xxx managers also stated to xxx that they know of no such procedure and a number of employees often report for work “hung over” and are not disciplined at all. xxx on several occasions requested of both the HR Manager and his direct supervisor that he receive an orientation on the Company’s operational procedures. He never was and instead he was told to write those procedures and he was currently in the process of doing that. (xxx worked in the golf shop before being promoted to the restaurant group.) Does he have a good case? How would he proceed?
I am willing to pay an additional $25 bonus but I don't want a lot of research only a personal opinion by a lawyer familiar with California labor law as to whether the facts I gave mean that we may possibly be able to collect a substantial sum or not if we proceed and why.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  socrateaser replied 3 years ago.
Welcome back.

If the termination violates employer written disciplinary policy, then your grandson has a breach of contract claim against the employer. If your grandson was fired for his own drug use, then he would have no claim.

The problem with this sort of claim is that your son cannot recover attorney's fees. Generally, this means that unless he is very highly compensated, the cost of litigation may overwhelm his recovery. This leaves two practical options:

  • Hire a lawyer and try to reach a quick settlement that provides some dough and possibly reinstatement;
  • Sue for the $7,500 jurisdictional maximum in small claims court (hearing date must be at a point where plaintiff's lost wages are at least $7,500 gross, in order to claim the maximum amount permitted).

Obviously, $7,500 doesn't go far -- but, it goes farther than $0.

For an employment rights lawyer referral, see this link.

Hope this helps.

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