No two cases are the same when it comes to litigation. A variety of things are taken into consideration when a judge or jury makes decisions on award amounts, or when plaintiff and defendants negotiate to come up with a wrongful termination settlement. Despite this fact, it is always interesting to look at some of the bigger recent verdicts. While this firm had nothing to do with the below verdict, our wrongful termination lawyer litigates these cases day in an day out.
What is a wrongful termination case?
A wrongful termination is the legal term that refers to situations in which an employee’s employment ended in violation of public policy. For more information on what exactly consists of a wrongful discharge, visit our main wrongful termination page. In these lawsuits, damages that can be collected are:
- All lost earnings from the date of the termination until the fired employee is able to find another job paying an equal wages or higher.
- The calculated value of benefits that were lost with the termination, including health insurance, retirement benefits, and life insurance.
- Emotional distress damages are also known as “pain and suffering” damages. Basically, this is awarded when employers act in a way that hurts the mental/emotional health of the employee.
- Punitive damages which are the amounts that are awarded to the employee to make the employer “pay” for their actions. This damage has the intention of punishing the employer for their bad behavior, unlike other damages that are meant to reimburse the employee. These damages are rare.
- In certain FEHA cases, Attorney fees can also be collected. Usually, employment lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis so the client doesn’t have to pay anything upfront anyways.
How Much Can You Get from a Wrongful Termination Lawsuit?
Don’t look at these cases and think that your case will get the same verdict. Even if the foundation of the cases is very similar, the judges and jury are different. Below are some of the recent wrongful termination settlement and verdict amounts in California cases:
Babyak v. Cardiovascular Systems, Inc. $25,100,000 Million dollar verdict
This verdict was for an employee of a heart medical device company who complained about unlawful kickbacks and FDA violations. Robert Odell’s highly successful sales client was fired after complaining in writing about all the violations. The company then systematically admonished him, cut his territory, and fired him. The verdict was for $2.7 million in economic damages and $22.4 million in punitive damages.
Minakshi Jafa-Bodden v. Bikram – $7.3 million awarded
Minakshi was an attorney for yoga guru Bikram Choudhury who claimed that her boss sexually harassed her. It was rumored that Bikram harassed and sexualized his female yoga students, even summoning them up to his hotel room at times. Minakshi began investigating these stories; it was then that she was forced to resign from her position as legal representative. The award includes $924,500 in compensatory damages and $6.4 million in punitive damages. Remember, punitive damages are meant to punish the perpetrator.
Blanca Torres v. B.E. Aerospace Inc. – $8,516,000 awarded
The award included $75,000 for economic damages, $1.441 million for non-economic damages, and $7 million for punitive damages. When the company that Blanca worked for, Delco Machine and Gear, Inc., was purchased by B.E. Aerospace, they terminated her claiming that her position had been eliminated. Blanca sued the company for wrongful termination, stating that they had indeed replaced her with a younger male, age 25, whom she had trained.
Angela Hernandez v. Pacific Bell Telephone Company (AT&T) – $2,027,884 awarded
Angela had worked for AT&T for over 10 years when she was fired. The company claimed that her firing was due to consistently not meeting national standards. Angela, the plaintiff, alleged that she was fired because she took too many days off due to migraines and vertigo, which was protected under FMLA and CFRA. These acts allow up to 480 hours of leave per year for qualified events and each year she took leaves that were less than that allowed amount. The awarded amount includes: $2,027,884 jury verdict, statutory attorney’s fees of $2,380,991, and recoverable costs of $298,254.94.
Wascher v. Southern California Permanente Group; Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals – Jury Awarded $1.75 million for retaliation and defamation; Final resolution of the case was confidentially settled before punitive damages were decided
Dr. Wascher was a surgeon with Southern California Permanente Group for a little over 2 years before he was defamed and not allowed to become a partner. The plaintiff, Dr. Wascher, had raised several concerns regarding patient care, one including that general surgeons were performing on complex cancer cases that they aren’t qualified for. The defendant contended that he did not make partner because physician partners in General Surgery did not support him as he was not a good fit for the department. The defendant also claims that the concerns that were brought up did not have to do with patient care, but rather demands that would have benefited the doctor’s practice preferences. The jury awarded Dr. Wascher $1.75 million for retaliation and defamation, with the whole amount being for non-economic damages, however the final wrongful termination settlement meeting happened behind closed doors so we do not know how much was given to settle the case.
Think You Have a Wrongful Termination Case?
If you think you’ve been wrongfully terminated, we highly recommend that you talk to an employment attorney immediately as there is a statute of limitation on all cases. The results above should not be viewed as typical, but it can give you an idea of what happens in the court concerning wrongful termination. Whether you reach a wrongful termination settlement or are awarded, having an excellent lawyer on your side will help you get the best results. To learn more about what California law says about this subject, visit our wrongful termination webpage.
The above verdict results are not testimonials. Except for Babyak v. Cardiovascular Systems, Inc., our lawyer(s) did not have anything to do with the above verdicts and these are not indicative of a result that you should predict, expect, or ask your lawyer to acquire for you. All cases are different and no person can predict the outcome of any case. If you want legal advice regarding your case, we recommend that you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.