Rebecca Kagin, who co-chairs California Employment Lawyer’s Association’s Immigrant Employee Rights Committee, designed and moderated the continuing legal education seminar “Advocating for Our Essential Workforce During the Pandemic” on August 11, 2021. Speakers addressed how to protect our essential workforce during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, with a special focus on the rights of immigrant workers. The seminar covered job protected leave, wage replacement for those impacted by Covid-19 and related issues, protections against discrimination and retaliation based on Covid-19 and related issues, and issues related to employer mandates of the Covid-19 vaccine. As a rising leader within CELA, Ms. Kagin collaborated with IERC committee members, her co-chair, and CELA’s staff to produce this CLE. As part of LVBH, Ms. Kagin represents immigrant and other workers in claims related to discrimination, harassment, retaliation, wage and hour, and whistleblowing, among other issues.
Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams won a jury trial in Alameda County on behalf of a licensed RN, who had been employed by The Permanent Medical Group and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals for almost 20 years at the time of her termination. The nurse received excellent performance reviews, including one two months before she announced her need for leave. Her supervisors started writing her up almost immediately after she requested a medical leave, placed her on a performance improvement plan after her return from leave, and ultimately terminated her. The jury trial lasted six weeks and resulted in an jury verdict awarding over $3,000,000 in damages. For more information about this case, Metzner v. The Permanente Medical Group, et al., follow this link to the press release.
A woman who missed work because of her serious health condition was fired by her employer under its “no fault” absence policy. Partner Jean Hyams filed suit on her behalf. The employer ended up footing the bill for the plaintiff’s attorneys fees and paying the plaintiff money damages to avoid a jury trial.
In a case arbitrated pursuant to a mandatory employment arbitration agreement, partners Jean Hyams and Leslie Levy won a case for a woman who was terminated from her job after taking time off as medical leave. Since the termination took place as part of a major corporate reorganization and the layoff of hundreds of people, the attorneys had to prove that she was singled out and fired for unlawful reasons.
For more than a dozen years, Alejandro Muñoz worked as a year-round Laborer/Groundskeeper at the Golden Gate Fields. He injured his knee at work. In 2015, Muñoz had a knee replacement. Thereafter, his doctor released him to work with no restrictions, because his doctor believe that Mr. Muñoz could perform all the essential functions of his job. Mr. Muñoz returned to work. A few hours later, his supervisor sent him home and, despite promises to the contrary, he was never returned to work. As a result , he filed suit alleging disability discrimination, based on a perceived disability, and failure to enter into a good faith interactive process. These violations caused Mr. Muñoz to suffer economic damages and emotional distress. Leslie Levy and Jennifer Sta.Ana of LVBH, along with Conchita Lozano-Batista of Weinberg Roger & Rosenfeld, represent Mr. Muñoz. A complaint is current pending in Alameda County Superior Court.
Firefighter Fired for Using Sick Leave to Care for His Family
Files Discrimination Lawsuit Against American Canyon Fire Department
San Francisco – February 3, 2017 – Lawyers for Carlo Teruel, a 34-year old firefighter-paramedic, have filed suit in Napa County Superior Court against American Canyon Fire Protection District and the City of American Canyon. The suit alleges that the defendants violated California state law by terminating Firefighter Teruel’s employment because he used sick leave he had earned to care for his wife and two young sons.
Firefighter Teruel, who is a graduate of UC Davis and a resident of Vallejo, joined the ACFPD with six years of experience as a firefighter-paramedic with the City of Berkeley. During his 18-month probationary period, Firefighter Teruel and his wife, a medical student, had their second son. In the months after their son was born, his wife, toddler, and newborn became ill on several different occasions. Wanting to be there for his wife and young children, Firefighter Teruel took sick leave in order to care for them. The lawsuit alleges that ACFPD management disapproved of Firefighter Teruel’s use of sick leave to care for his family. Seventeen months into his 18-month probationary period, even though he had received consistently positive feedback on his performance and had passed all of his tests, ACFPD fired him.
Among other claims, the complaint alleges that the department engaged in illegal gender stereotyping of Firefighter Teruel, who was punished for breaking with traditional gender roles and taking time off work to be a supportive husband and father. The complaint also alleges that the department violated California laws that protect the right of employees to take leave and sick days to care for ill or disabled family members.
“When I was interviewing for the job,” recalls Firefighter Teruel, “I told them I treated all my patients like family – that was my way of giving the best care as a Firefighter-Paramedic. I didn’t think my own family would be punished for needing me home to care for them.”
“There are still outdated attitudes in many industries, especially industries like firefighting that historically have hired mostly men, where people think men should be the breadwinners, and women should be the caregivers,” said Jennifer Liu, one of the lawyers representing Firefighter Teruel. Sharon Vinick, another lawyer representing Firefighter Teruel, stated, “We hope Firefighter Teruel’s case will establish that men should not have to risk their jobs in order to be active fathers.”
Mr. Teruel is represented by Jennifer Liu of The Liu Law Firm, P.C. and Sharon Vinick and Leslie Levy of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP.
The case is Carlo Teruel v. American Canyon Fire Protection District, et al., Napa County Superior Court, Case No. 17CV000119.
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The Liu Law Firm, P.C. is a San Francisco-based employee rights law firm representing employees nationwide in areas such as wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, retaliation, breach of contract, employment contracts, severance negotiations, and wage and hour violations. More information at liulawpc.com.
The partners of Levy Vinick Burrell Hyams LLP have, collectively, represented plaintiffs in employment cases for almost a century. Our current practice reflects our commitment to helping employees remedy problems that have occurred in the workplace. We represent employees in state and federal courts, as well as in arbitration and mediation. More information at levyvinick.com.
Partner Sharon Vinick, along with co-counsel Jennifer Liu and Rebecca Peterson-Fisher of The Liu Law Firm PC, have filed a case on behalf of Carlo Teruel, a firefighter who worked for the American Canyon Fire Protection District and the City of America Canyon. Mr. Teruel came to work in American Canyon after previously serving as a firefighter for the City of Berkeley. The complaint alleges that Mr. Teruel was terminated because he exercised his legal right to take time off to care for the medical needs of his wife and two small children. Approximately one month before Mr. Teruel was to complete his probationary period and become a permanent employee, the Fire Protection District fired him without warning or explanation.
The lawsuit includes claims that the employer committed violations of the California Family Rights Act and the California Kin Care Act (Labor Code Section 233). The complaint also asserts that the termination discriminated against Mr. Teruel because he is a male caregiver and because the employer expected him to conform to gender stereotypes of men acting as breadwinners and not caregivers for their children.