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A San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station employee filed a lawsuit against the plant’s owner, Southern California Edison, after alleging his termination was a direct result of his voiced concerns regarding plant safety. The employee, a former manager of business accounting and project services, filed a complaint with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just weeks before he was let go from the station. He was on his second stint at the plant when the alleged wrongful termination occurred, according to the Dana Point Times.

Our Orange County employment lawyers understand the frustration that can evolve from working in an unsafe environment. We encourage employees who are punished with wrongful termination to fight for their lost wages and damages. The law protects employees from retaliation and from unsafe working conditions.

The plant employee, after receiving notice of complaints from insiders about alleged plant safety violations, reportedly sent a letter to a San Onofre manager encouraging openness towards employees’ safety concerns and tips. Shortly after, he came forward and confronted his boss about some of these safety concerns, reports the LA Weekly. He alleges that he was ordered to stay quiet.

According to the OC Times, the San Onofre plant has been repeatedly cited by federal regulators for continuously violating the plant’s own standards for safety and workplace conditions. For example, in 2006 the plant reportedly leaked highly radioactive tritium into local groundwater and was also listed as the second most dangerous nuclear facility in the U.S.

Safety should be an employer’s top priority and employees safety concerns should always be addressed. If a company or employer fails to do so, workers are encouraged to step up and report any violations.

If you need to file a complaint about a workplace’s unsafe conditions, you can follow these instructions provided by the Occupational Safety & Heath Administration (OSHA).
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Many unscrupulous employers resort to misclassifying their employees as “independent contractors” in order to avoid: 1) Paying overtime and benefits to the employee AND 2) Paying payroll taxes to the government. Both result in enormous harm to the community and to the families of the employees. Recently our Orange County Employee’s Right Attorneys have been approached by a number of employees from a local company that has classified over 35 inside sales employees as contractors and has avoided paying them overtime and in some cases even the minimum wage required in California. In order to determine if one is a contractor or an employee number of questions must be answered. The most important of these questions deals with the level of control that the employer has over the individual’s schedule. Case law has held that this test, developed under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), looks to whether the employee is economically dependent upon the principal or is instead in business for himself or herself. Other factors looked at our whether individual pays own expenses, pays for employees, set own goals and can and does take work in other places. What is important is that employers not be allowed to abuse the system by declaring otherwise regular employees as contractors. Such classification hurts us all!

On March 6, 2009, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) released two Opinion Letter FLSA2009-16 which approved “compressed work schedule” by employers. although at first glance this opinion letter may seem to undermine the single workweek rule of Fair Labor Standards Act, in reality the specific situation addressed by the opinion does not run afoul of FLSA as the work performed on Fridays under the particular employer’s plan gets split between two workweeks and therefore, the employee is only working 40 hours each workweek. The bad news for employees is that DOL seems to be open to employers coming up with creative schemes to avoid payment of overtime. It is incumbent upon employee’s rights attorneys to challenge any scheme which seeks to circumvent FLSA or California law by skillfully manipulating the workweek rules.

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