California Employment Law

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I was terminated from my employer after 31 years due to a…

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I was terminated from...

I was terminated from my employer after 31 years due to a non intentional mistake - my medical certification expired and both my employer and myself didn't notice the mistake until about 20 days after it expired. They allowed me to keep working still the day they asked me if I knew when it was going to expire or had expired and I told them I had given Human Resources the only certification I had - they had me work and told me to take the day off the next day to go get it renewed and when I returned they gave me a suspension stating they had to investigate my expired medical certification being expired. The suspension lasted a week and then they phoned me and told me I was terminated for the medical certificate expiring. I have applied for unemployment benefits and have been denied due to california section 1256. I would like to appeal the unemployment office decision. Am I wrong for trying to appeal?

Lawyer's Assistant: Because employment law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

California

Lawyer's Assistant: Is the employment agreement "at will," union, full time or part time?

Union Full time I have filed a grievance with my union

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I dont htink so

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: California Employment Law
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
This was the first time my certificate had expired like this in 31 years - in the past 10 months I have gone through a divorce, had to sleep in motels for months because I gave my ex-wife our home, purchased a condo in which escrow took over the allotted period so I have had several addresses and am guessing that is why I did not receive the reminder notice of my medical certificate going to expire. However, I don't understand why my employer did not inform me of the medical certificate expiring until about 20 plus days after it had expired??? I'm thinking don't they also have a requirement of assuring all thier drivers have valid medical certificates on file. I feel they wanted to terminate me and this was thier way of doing it. I had not had a warning or anything negative in my file for at least 3 years. The only other issue was about 4 years ago when I forgot to put on my seat belt and was given a warning, other than that nothing else.
Answered in 21 minutes by:
12/6/2017
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago
Patrick, Esq.
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 14,405
Experience: Significant experience in all areas of employment law.
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Hello and thank you for entrusting me to assist you. My name is ***** ***** I will do everything I can to answer your question.

No, I don't think you are wrong in trying to appeal the denial of unemployment benefits. If you can show that this was an unintentional error on your part and that you did not deliberately conceal something, there is a good chance you can get the decision overturned, since such an error would not typically meet the standard of "misconduct" that is required to justify a denial of benefits.

You also seem to be asking whether the termination was legal. Unfortunately, employment in the state of California is "at will" absent an express agreement to the contrary. At will employment can be terminated for any reason not amounting to discrimination on the basis of a legally protected trait (race, religion, gender, etc.) or retaliation for engaging in certain forms of legally protected conduct (filing a wage claim, taking FMLA leave, etc.). It doesn't matter whether the basis for termination is fair, reasonable or even true.

This means you can be terminated for the expired certificate, even if your employer is partially at fault for it, and even if they did not initially decide to terminate you. To have a claim, you would have to be able to show that the expired certificate had nothing to do with why you were fired and was really just a fabricated pretense to conceal the fact that you were really being terminated because of a legally protected trait or activity, as defined above. Working without a certificate in the medical field is generally regarded by employers to be a serious matter and so I think it would be very hard to show that this had nothing to do with why you were actually fired. That said, if you have evidence to suggest, for example, that your employer didn't like how old you were and wanted to terminate you because you were too old, you could pursue such a claim by filing a complaint with the DFEH here.

I hope that you find this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to let me know if you have any questions or concerns regarding the above and I will be more than happy to assist you further.

If you do not require any further assistance, please be so kind as to provide a positive rating of my service so that I may receive credit for assisting you. Very best wishes moving forward.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I am a trash/collecter truck driver - don't work in the medical field. Does this make a difference?
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago

My apologies, I read "medical certification" as being a certification to practice medicine....

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California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago

This makes a difference only in the sense that the failing to re-certify is not as serious of a problem. So, if you could prove that your employer was biased against you because of your age, race, or religion, for instance, it becomes more plausible to argue that the stated reason of termination--the expired certification--was really just a pretense and that the true reason was illegal discrimination.

I think this also makes it easier to appeal your claim for unemployment benefits, since the certification is just regarding your personal health and failing to recertify that is not nearly as serious of an issue as a nurse failing to recertify her license, for example.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Any suggestions on how to write and what to include in my appeal letter to the unemployment office?
California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago

You just want to emphasize that this was an honest mistake, that you had no intent to deceive, and that the mistake did not risk serious harm to your employer and was essentially a "small" mistake.

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California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago

Was there anything else I can do for you here?

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California Employment Lawyer: Patrick, Esq., Lawyer replied 7 months ago

Did we lose our connection?

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