Sacramento Jury Awards Fired Employee $116,000 After Being Fired

June 27, 2018 Injury Lawyer San Diego 0

A federal court jury in Sacramento awarded Erma J. Alaniz, a fired office manager, $116,031 from her former employer, Dr. Rober Peppercorn, finding that Dr. Peppercorn unlawfully retaliated against Ms. Alaniz. The jury found that Dr. Peppercorn’s actions violated the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

During the course of the trial, the jury heard evidence that Dr. Peppercorn blamed Ms. Alaniz for a tense workplace environment arising from his attraction to Tiffany Raspberry, a young assistant working in Dr. Peppercorn’s medical office. The evidence further showed that Dr. Peppercorn’s relationship with Ms. Raspberry caused his marital problems and that Ms. Alaniz sympathized with his wife and provided her with financial records demonstrating that Dr. Peppercorn gave Ms. Raspberry financial assistance through his business.

When Dr. Peppercorn found out that Ms. Alaniz was looking for another job, he terminated her. The exchange ended in a loud exchange where Dr. Peppercorn blamed Ms. Alaniz for creating rumors and gossip about him and Ms. Raspberry.

The jury did decide not to award punitive damages, rejecting a finding that Dr. Peppercorn acted with “malice, oppression or fraud.”

Imperial Valley Woman Accuses Employer, 2 Others of Assault

June 25, 2018 Injury Lawyer San Diego 0

On the evening of June 7, Yessenia “Jesse” Moreno of Westmorland, a town outside El Centro in the Imperial Valley, reported that she was assaulted by her employer and two others while she was working at The Town Pump, a local restaurant.

“All I know is (her co-worker, Estella Jimenez) ran toward the bar area, I get halfway to the bar, and before I know it the owner Andrew (Salazar) comes at me in a hostile way and her sister comes at me yelling at me,” Moreno said. “We then started fighting.

“I recall Andrew threw a drink at me, and (Estella’s brother, Zobeck Aguire) threw all kinds of beer on me,” she said. “I remember I was on (Estella’s sister, Esther Aguirre), Andrew was on me and I realized he was choking me.

“Then all of a sudden I feel a big something hit my face, and it was a big glass salt shaker that was full of salt,” Moreno said. “Estrella had thrown it at me.”

Westmorland Police arrested Andrew Salazar, 37, Zobeck Aguirre, 33, and Estrella Jimenez, 24, were arrested and booked into Imperial County jail.

Shuttle Drivers Sue SuperShuttle; Claim They Were Improperly Called “Independent Contractors”

June 16, 2018 Injury Lawyer San Diego 0

A class-action employment lawsuit was filed by current and former drivers of SuperShuttle International, Inc., a van service serving many of California’s airports (including San Diego’s Lindbergh Field), alleging that the company cheated them out of millions of dollars of wages by classifying the drivers as “independent contractors” or “franchises” instead of employees.

The suit alleges that the company, by making the designation, avoided state labor laws governing minimum wage and overtime pay and shifted the operating cost of the vehicles to the drivers, including forcing drivers to pay for the leasing and maintenance of the vehicles, their insurance coverage, and other expenses. In many cases, drivers earned less than minimum wage after expenses were deducted and were not provided meal and break periods–which would be required for employees.

The lawsuit seeks damages of “at least $100 million” and appears very similar to the claims presented by drivers for FedEx Ground. FedEx Ground recently lost that case at trial and on appeal.

If you work for a company that designates you as an “independent contractor” and you believe that you should instead be considered an employee, please contact us to discuss your rights.

San Diego Judge Orders Starbucks to Return $100 Million to California Employees

March 20, 2018 Injury Lawyer San Diego 0

Earlier today, San Diego Superior Court Judge Patricia Cowett ordered Starbucks to pay $100 Million to its’ California baristas in back tips and baristas that had been wrongly directed to shift supervisors. In addition, Starbucks’ shift supervisors were enjoined from sharing in future tips.

Judge Cowett found that the sharing of tips with shift supervisors violated state law. Starbucks called the ruling “unfair” and “beyond all common sense and reason.”

The lawsuit started after a La Jolla barista complained about shift supervisors sharing the employee tips left in the front counter tip jar. After filing suit, a class of nearly 100,000 past and present Starbucks baristas was certified.

San Diego Teacher Awarded $1 Million in Discrimination Lawsuit

January 6, 2018 Injury Lawyer San Diego 0

On December 11, 2007, a former Chula Vista third-grade teacher won a judgment of more than $1 million after a jury decided that she had been wrongfully terminated due to becoming pregnant.

Danielle Coziahr was a third-grade teacher at Silver Wing Elementary School in Otay Mesa from 2004-06. She was “probationary”, meaning that she had not obtained tenure at her position. Although the Chula Vista School District can generally choose not to renew teaching contracts for any reason, a jury decided that the real reason Ms. Coziahr was let go was because she is a woman and she was pregnant.

The jury awarded Coziahr $1,012,720 with the largest portion being future economic loss due to future lost wages. Coziahr presented evidence that she had been effectively blackballed and could not obtain another teaching position.

Ms. Coziahr provided an interview to local media. The extent of the discrimination that she suffered was inexcusable and Ms. Coziahr rightly feels justified.