San Francisco, CA (Law Firm Newswire) December 4, 2015 – A former auditor at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) filed a wrongful termination lawsuit for allegedly being fired for reporting serious safety problems at the company.
Thomas Jones, 66, was hired as an inspector by Canus Corp. to audit the work of PG&E employees and construction workers in the San Jose, California, area in April 2014. The lawsuit claimed he discovered shocking regulatory infractions and faulty work being signed off by PG&E inspectors. He was also concerned about the safety hazards he found on many jobs.
“PG&E have shown a repeated disregard for safety issues. They sweep problems under the rug rather than addressing them to find a long-term solution that prioritizes the safety of customers and protects whistleblowers who report serious problems,” said attorney Bryan J. McCormack of San Francisco, California-based employment law firm McCormack & Erlich LLP. McCormack represents Jones in the case.
The lawsuit was filed in San Francisco County Superior Court against both PG&E and Canus, whom Jones claimed were his joint employers as they divided control over his hours, wages and work activities. According to the complaint, Jones on multiple occasions attempted to report the safety issues to his boss, who ignored the reported violations. He also allegedly discussed the problems during weekly inspection meetings but did not get any response. In Aug. 2014, Jones told his boss about his intention to tell PG&E upper management about the severity of the violations.
Soon after Jones informed his supervisor of the problems and the urgent need to fix them, he was told the company no longer needed him. However, Jones had finished only a small portion of the audits. Canus terminated Jones’ employment in Sept. 2014 and PG&E replaced him with another worker. Jones had been a PG&E employee for more than 40 years.
Jones is suing both companies for wrongful termination in violation of public policy, as well as discrimination and retaliation. Under the California Labor Code, an employer may not retaliate against an employee for complaining about the employer’s unlawful conduct and for refusing to participate in it. The lawsuit seeks compensation for lost earnings and benefits as well as emotional distress, punitive damages and an injunction preventing PG&E from ignoring safety concerns.
“There is simply no excuse for poor management. PG&E should be held accountable for its violations, which are hazardous to the public,” said McCormack.
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