WRONGFUL TERMINATION I CORONAVIRUS – Employees bringing an action for Wrongful Termination because of the Coronavirus
April 1, 2020
Recently Governor Gavin Newsom invoking state police power issued a “stay-at-home order” (also known as the “Shelter-in-place order”), as an attempt to slow down the spread of COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus). This official state mandate is fundamental to preserve the health and safety of the public. Employers are under a duty to refrain from discharging an employee for refusing to abide by the order.
In 1980, the California Supreme Court decided the landmark case of Tameny v Atlantic Richfield Co. (1980) 27 C3d 167, 164 CR 839; the Court found that employers have a duty imposed by law to implement the fundamental public policies embodied by the State. This duty prevents employers from discharging an employee for refusing to commit a crime or refusing to violate a fundamental public policy. The Shelter-in-place order or Stay-at-home order mandated by the Governor several days ago is a State measure enacted for the benefit and safety of our fellow Californians. This order should be implemented by employers and employer are liable should they terminate an employee whom refuses to break the order.
Many employees are protected and can bring a cause of action for wrongful termination. Employees who can assert this cause of action include: (a) “at-will” employees, even short-term employees may bring a public policy claim, or (b) employees in both the public and private sector can bring a cause of action for wrongful termination in violation of public policy
The state of California advises: “Stay home except for essential needs … The California State Public Health Officer and Director of the California Department of Public Health is ordering all individuals living in the State of California to stay home or at their place of residence, except as needed to maintain continuity of operation of the federal critical infrastructure sectors.” If you have any questions regarding the Stay at home order, we direct you to the Official State of California website: https://covid19.ca.gov/stay-home-except-for-essential-needs/
If you were terminated for refusing to report to work in violation of the stay at home order or during or because of your concerns regarding the Coronavirus, you should contact our offices immediately. Learn your rights and get some advice on how to best proceed. We encourage you to contact our offices at 619-432-5145 for a free consultation with one of our employment attorneys to discuss your Covid-19 termination case or Coronavirus wrongful termination case.
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