I was hired in February of 2013 as customer relations manager. My husband also has been working in this place for about a year. My husband wasn't particularly pleased about seeking employment there because he told me that they are not good people and they always mess with your money. Financially we were in no shape for me to be picky so I took the job. they had a 120 days probationary period and I started working. My performance was beyond what they expected. The GM and the Controller were very happy with me and had bigger plans for me. Meanwhile, my husband working with base and commission found out that him and his colleagues were not getting paid correctly; that is they reduce the amount of their commission twice instead of once. He brought it up with his manager and his colleagues, his colleagues eventually said they are not going to fight it because they are afraid of getting fired. My husband kept on pushing for months but the manager did not want to take action. or would say that I brought it up and they are not doing anything about it. My husband went directly to the controller, again for months he went back and forth and asked for his money(about $500). every time the controller came up with an excuse, there was even argument between them until she eventually paid him after a few months going back and forth. Right after they paid my husband they laid me off. It was a shock because I knew they were very happy with my performance; a week earlier they even recognized my skills and hard work at the meeting were I was the employee of the month. On June 14th the last day of my probationary period they called me up and said that the company is going through restructuring and cuts and I am being laid off. My husband's colleagues had a whole lot more at stake. the owner, because of the payroll mistake owes them in thousands of dollars, but he had instructed the payroll that he has no interest in paying that money and they are ok with because they want to keep their jobs. My husband and I were not ok with it. It was the money that was due to my husband and he had worked hard for it. Because he did not quit in pursuing his money they took my job away and I would really like to file a law suit against the owner. do I have grounds?
1 Answer from Attorneys
A wrongful discharge based on retaliation for the employee's asserting his or her own rights is well-established in California. It is not at all clear whether an employee has a claim based on retaliation because someone else asserted their rights. Indeed, I suspect the theory is novel.
The claim becomes much easier if you assisted your husband in pursuing his claim. The theory would be that the company retaliated against you because you assisted your husband.
You really need to speak with a plaintiff-side labor lawyer about your theory and your case. There are likely lots of facts here that will help you, or hurt you, that are not in your description. If there really was a substantial restructuring that affected your position as well as others, moreover, then a discrimination claim becomes much harder to establish.
Best of luck to you.