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Patrick, Esq.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 7012
Experience:  Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Job: working for a government contractor as an electrician. Wrongfully

Resolved Question:

Job: working for a government contractor as an electrician.

Wrongfully accused of rambling and taking another coworkers things. Which turned into just rambling through another coworkers things. I did not touch anything of the accuser. After being falsely accused, I was told to leave the premises while the matter was being investigated. I was told I would recieve a call when I could return to work. No call was recieved. A week later I rececived paperwork indicating I had been terminated, no explanation. Please tell me I have some rights. Should I have been paid for the week?

Other: The week before my termination, my supervisor had me install a damage cable onboard LCAC I was working on. He expressed concern that I would tell on him. (I was).
I also had been pressuring them to pay me money owed, (Dept. of Labor have been helping me, but no payment have been made). I strongly feel these are the real reasons I was terminated.

V/R

Hugh
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and thank you for entrusting me to answer your question. Did you have a contract garuanteeing you employment for a specified period of time?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Sorry, I had to pick my daughter up from school.

 

 

I did not have a contract garuanteeing me employment.

Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
Sorry for the delay in responding.

California Labor Code Section 2922 provides that: "employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other." Since you do not have a contract that guarantees you employment for a specified term, and since you are a public sector employee, you are an "at-will" employee. As an at will employee, you are free to leave your job at any time. In exchange, your employer is free to change the requirements, promote, terminate or demote you as it sees fit and without reason, or even for a mistaken reason (as appears was the case here).

That said, Labor Code section 201 specifically states that an employee who is discharged must be paid all of his or her wages, including accrued vacation, immediately at the time of termination. Further, an employer who willfully fails to pay any wages due a terminated employee (discharge or quit) in the prescribed time frame may be assessed a waiting time penalty. The waiting time penalty is an amount equal to the employee's daily rate of pay for each day the wages remain unpaid, up to a maximum of thirty (30) calendar days. Mamika v. Barca (1998) 68 Cal.App4th 487.

To bring a claim for whistle-blowing, you would typically need to prove the following:

- You were/are an employee

- You had reasonable cause to believe the law was being broken. (A whistleblower would still be protected even if her suspicions of illegal activity turned out to be wrong. However, the key is that her suspicions had to have been objectively reasonable and subjectively sincere.)

- You were subjected to an adverse employment action

- Retaliation for whistleblowing was a “motivating factor” in the employer’s decision to engage in the adverse employment action. Remarks by a supervisor that he intended to get even with the employee for blowing the whistle would be good evidence of this. If the retaliation followed a short time after the whistleblower blew the whistle, that would also be good evidence of retaliation.

I hope that this information helps you in deciding what to do.
 
If my answer has been helpful to you, please click on the GREEN ACCEPT button directly above. I will not get credit for assisting you or receive payment for my work unless you do this. Your question will not close after you click "accept," and you will still be able to ask follow-up questions if necessary.
 
The only facts I know about your situation are the ones that you tell me, so please try to be specific and bear in mind that, occasionally, miscommunications will occur. I will do everything I can to clarify my answer if I have misunderstood your question. Also bear in mind that the law does not always read how we think it should. I ask that you be understanding if an opinion I have provided is not consistent with what you wanted to hear.
 
Finally, the information that I have provided is not legal advice. I am not acting as your attorney and my answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship between us. I encourage you to consult with a local attorney in regard to legal matters.

Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7012
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Hello Sir, I recently spoke with Department of labor representitive, Gerri Rimple, She stated that since I worked for a FEDERAL contractor, that they do not have to pay penalties fo my unpaid wages., Mamika v. Barca (1998) 68 Cal. App4th 487. Could you please tell me what the Federal Law states.
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
The case that you cited is the one that I cited in my original response. That case does not support any distinction in the way a federal contractor would be treated under Labor Code 203 versus other employers.

Section 203 states:

"If an EMPLOYER willfully fails to pay, without abatement
or reduction, in accordance with Sections 201, 201.3, 201.5, 202, and
205.5, any wages of an employee who is discharged or who quits, the
wages of the employee shall continue as a penalty from the due date
thereof at the same rate until paid or until an action therefor is
commenced; but the wages shall not continue for more than 30 days. An
employee who secretes or absents himself or herself to avoid payment
to him or her, or who refuses to receive the payment when fully
tendered to him or her, including any penalty then accrued under this
section, is not entitled to any benefit under this section for the
time during which he or she so avoids payment."

The code section does not specify what types of employers are specified under the rule. My guess is that what you were told is that only employees, not independent contractors enjoy rights under section 203. This is because section 203 specifies that it applies to "employees." I don't believe you specified in your original query that you were a contractor, so I did not address that distinction.

This is the only explanation I can think of for what you were told. I hope this helps and wish you the best. Again bear in mind that my responses are for informational purposes only and are not a substitute for the advice of an attorney in a confidential setting.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry sir, I want to clarify that I was an employee of a federal contracting company, Oceaneering International. So, I do fall under labor code 203?
Expert:  Patrick, Esq. replied 2 years ago.
The language of Labor Code section 203 appears to indicate that it would apply to an employee in your circumstance. In my limited research into this issue, I have found no case or law stating the contrary.

However, what I am telling you is not "legal advice" and is for informational purposes only. There is no attorney client relationship between us.
Patrick, Esq., Lawyer
Satisfied Customers: 7012
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
Patrick, Esq. and other California Employment Law Specialists are ready to help you

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