He was sexually harassing me to the point of grabbing my hand to put on his penis and would ask to see under my skirt. I worked all week and he, the CEO, fired me for being out the previous Monday yet allowed me to work all week, wrote final check Wednesday yet I didn't know until I got to the office Friday afternoon! My own direct boss wouldn't speak to me. He has a history of doing this, some employees were aware he was doing this to me. Now I find out, prior to picking up prescriptions that are needed to live a normal life, I have crohns disease and out of meds, deathly allergic to bees out of meds, severe anxiety out of meds and knee medication as I've had 12 knee surgeries! If I don't take these I'm hospitalized for at least a week because I get deathly ill. Never was offered cobra
It appears that you would have claims for sexual harassment, retaliation for refusing to engage in sexual conduct and wrongful termination, along with potential related claims. You should immediately consult with an experienced employment attorney in your area. Patrick Phillips comes to mind as a San Diego based employment attorney who also regularly contributes to Avvo.
As for your other questions, you may have some related claims stemming from your disabilities, if your employer knew about them and targeted you as a result. If you were provided with health benefits during your employment, you also should have been given COBRA. However, it sounds like the termination was recent and you may still receive a COBRA packet in the mail from the carrier. Good luck.
Employment / Labor Attorney
You have a lot going on in your post. I will try to hit all of the issues.
The facts you have provided regarding sexual harassment appear to have severe or pervasive enough to constitute unlawful harassent. May issues need to be explored, including whether you reported the harassment so as to allow the company to help you, and how long ago these acts occurred. The former would have to do with what kind of damages you can allege, and the latter as to whether too much time has passed to make the claim. Essentially, you have on year from the complained of act to file an administrative complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing in order to preserve your right to sue.
As to wrongful termination, if you were terminated for refusing the sexual advances, or reporting them, then you would likely have a claim for wrongful termination. If you were terminated for missing a day of work, there is nothing unlawful about that motivation, or in the manner of the termination that you posted about. It is perfectly legal for an employer to intentionally put off communication of a termination to a point in time when it is convenient to the employer.
As to the insurance fraud, you post no facts of fraud. At best you say you were not given a COBRA notice. Failure to provide COBRA notice is not fraud, but does carry with it penalties for the employer who fails to provide such notice in a timely manner.
It sounds like it would be prudent for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.
Good luck to you.
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The best advice would be to set an appointment with an attorney who specializes in employment law and sexual harassment cases. Then after a thorough review of all of the facts, they can give you an opinion as to whether you have a viable claim, and what procedural steps you should take. Many attorneys handle these cases on a contingency percentage fee, taking a percentage of the recovery. In contingency fee arrangements, there are no hourly fees. In some states attorneys do not charge anything for an initial appointment to discuss your case but in others there is a reasonable fee charged to compensate the attorney for their time and advice. As Abraham Lincoln said "a lawyer's stock in trade is his time." I would suggest that you begin your search for an attorney on this Avvo website. Good luck!
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State, Local, and Municipal Law Attorney
It certainly sounds like you have a cause of action against your former employer, but a lot of facts need to be explored. For example, you don't indicate how long ago you left your employment. In any case you need to immediately consult with an employment law attorney. Use the Find a Lawyer tab on Avvo. Also, here’s a link to the California Employment Lawyers Association website where you can search for an employment law attorney in your area. CELA attorneys specialize in representing employees and many offer free consultations. Best of luck to you.
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Employment / Labor Attorney
You may have a good case for sexual harassment and/or wrongful termination if he sexually harassed other employees and if you did not encourage his behavior or go along with it, etc. Hopefully, you let him know you did not want him to sexually harass you or you complained to his boss, HR, etc. Your former employer has a brief time period to notify the insurance carrier that you are no longer employed and then the insurance carrier has a set amount of time to notify you of your rights under COBRA. Call the insurance carrier to sign up for COBRA if you want it. If you believe you were terminated because you refused to be sexually harassed, call an employment law attorney to discuss.
Yes. File claim on EEOC.com website, and in 6 months you should get a right to sue letter, and then you can retain a lawyer.
I'm sorry all of this is happening to you.
As you know, it is illegal to sexually harass someone in the workplace. The Fair Employment and Housing Act ("FEHA") is the California law that prohibits it. Grabbing your hand to put on his penis and asking to see under your skirt may qualify; the conduct has to be so severe or pervasive that it fundamentally alters the nature of the workplace. There is case law which says that even a single such act by a supervisor (or a highly -placed person like a CEO) could be enough to constitute sexual harassment.
What you don't mention is why you think he fired you. Do you complain about what he did, or did you resist it? If so, you may also have a case for illegal retaliation under FEHA.
The law also requires them to offer you COBRA benefits to continue your health coverage. If they haven't done so, make sure to contact their human resources department to get this taken care of.
Sexual harassment and retaliation can carry with them substantial remedies, including back pay, front pay until a jury determines that you are reasonably able to find a substantially similar position, emotional distress damages when warranted, possibly punitive damages (especially because the act was perpetrated by the CEO), and attorney's fees.
If you believe that you have been sexually harassed or retaliated against illegally, and you decide to take legal action, make sure to do so before your statute of limitations expires, or your rights maybe lost forever.
I hope this information is helpful to you.
Craig T. Byrnes
Disclaimer: Please be aware that I am not offering legal advice, nor forming an attorney-client relationship with you. I am not representing you, nor doing anything to protect your legal rights. If you believe that you have suffered a legal wrong, take action before any statute or limitations expires, or your right to do so may be lost forever. Good luck in your legal matter.