Whistles, Weed, and Wrongful Termination
On November 14, 2017, a couple of employees of a premium cannabis shop in Oregon filed a lawsuit alleging they were fired for blowing the whistle on weed that was not tracked in the required tracking system.
The weed shop is apparently a premium joint (see what I did there), specializing in making its weed look like it is high-end (sorry, I couldn’t help it).
The employees claim that they were terminated for complaining that the weed shop was not complying with laws requiring that all weed be accounted for in a particular manner and particular system.
The employees will have to prove that their complaints were a substantial factor in the decision to fire them. If the employer can come up with a legitimate reason for termination, and the employees cannot overcome that reason with evidence, their whistleblower retaliation lawsuits will fail.
In fact, just this month, a California Superior Court judge tentatively tossed a lawsuit by an office manager for a church who claimed she was fired after complaining about the misuse of church funds. The judge decided to dismiss the suit because the former office manager could not prove that the Priest who fired her even knew about her complaints, let alone that they were the reason for her termination.
Wrongful termination, whistleblower, and retaliation claims require at least persuasive circumstantial evidence that the cause of the termination (or a substantial factor in making the termination decision) was the “protected activity,” such as complaints about unlawful conduct or complaints of certain kinds of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation.
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