Two former employees and one current employee of a school in Whittier recently filed a lawsuit against the school, its principal and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The plaintiffs claim that they were retaliated against in the workplace for trying to protect the school’s students and that they were also forced to work in an environment that made them feel unsafe.
The wrongful termination lawsuit was filed earlier this month. The plaintiffs claim that the principal of the school knew that she was being stalked by a potentially dangerous man on a regular basis. Although the principal did take measures to increase security at the school, the lawsuit claims that the principal tried to avoid telling staff that she was being stalked and that she also failed to inform the students’ parents of the stalker.
Two employees were later fired for informing parents about the potentially dangerous stalker. Another employee had to take a medical leave as a result of working in an environment that caused her to feel distressed and unsafe.
Employers in California do have the right to terminate employees under a variety of circumstances, but employers cannot terminate employees simply for filing complaints about working in unhealthy or unsafe environments or for disclosing information about dangerous work conditions.
According to the lawsuit that was filed against the Catholic school, the principal had been stalked by a man for about 30 years. When the principal was hired by the school in March 2012, the principal informed the archdiocese of her stalker and the school took steps to enhance its security. Employees of the school were provided with pictures and information about the principal’s stalker. However, the principal allegedly tried to avoid informing staff about the stalker, and the principal did not tell parents of students about the stalker. The stalker knew where the woman was working and had even sent messages to the principal at the school.
In November 2012, one of the plaintiffs had sent an email to students’ parents in order to inform parents about the stalker, who had finally been arrested in October. The former employee claims that she was fired for sending the email. Another worker claims that she was also retaliated against and fired for the incident. A third employee who is filing the lawsuit was not fired but has since taken a medical leave.
Source: Whittier Daily News, “Stalker case leads to lawsuit against St. Bruno, principal and archdiocese,” Peter Fullam, Feb. 21, 2013