Articles Posted in Wrongful Termination

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Two people have died from an automobile crash in Lexington, Kentucky. It has been reported that a Mercedes Benz was traveling a high rate of speed after the University of Kentucky Campus Police attempted to stop the vehicle. The auto accident happened on East High Street. As the car traveled at a high rate of speed, the vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree. The driver of the Mercedes was thrown from the car and died at the scene from those injures. Upon impact with the tree, the car burst into flames. The passenger of the car never made it out of the vehicle, and died in the fire and crash.

It is unknown at this time why the driver may have attempted to avoid the police. However, whatever the driver’s reasons for traveling so fast, it was negligent to do such and appears the cause of this tragic crash. The passenger’s Estate and family will have a Kentucky wrongful death claim against the driver and his insurance company.

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1171697_a_beer_in_a_pub.jpgCecil Johnson of Lancaster, Kentucky, age 61, died late Saturday after his motorcycle left the roadway, struck a ditch and flipped several times. The Kentucky motorcycle accident occurred on Moran Mill Road in Madison County, Kentucky. Alcohol is a suspected factor. This was reported as a single vehicle accident.

Anytime a person is injured or killed in motor vehicle accident, the family of the person killed should have the accident thoroughly investigated. The investigation in cases of single vehicle alcohol related accidents involve where was the person travel from and to. Where had the deceased been drinking. In Kentucky, motorcycle and car accidents that involve alcohol can lead to “dram shop” liability. “Dram Shop” laws are aimed at punishing bars and restaurants that over serve alcohol to persons that then injure themselves or others. Mr. Johnson’s family should investigate the level of alcohol in Cecil Johnson’s body at the time of death, and if such was excessive, then investigate where he’d been drinking.

Wrongful death claims in Kentucky can be brought by the families of persons over served by bars and restaurants.
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A bus accident in Bardwell, Kentucky occurred after returning from taking children to an outing in Paducah, Kentucky. A bus lost control went off the road and rolled several times. One child is reported to have died at the scene, and other children were injured and taken to the hospital. The driver of the bus and an adult chaperone were both airlifted to hospitals due to their injuries.
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A fatal accident on I-65 near Elizabethtown, Kentucky has killed three people and sent four others to the hospital with injuries. The accident involved a FedEx semi-tractor trailer truck and a SUV. The reports indicate that the semi bumped the rear end of the SUV and sent the SUV out of control, eventually flipping over. The FedEx driver was not injured, but the other people injured and killed were all in the SUV. The three people killed were ejected from the SUV. The SUV’s driver and another adult passenger were taken to University Hospital with injuries and two children were taken to Kosair Children’s Hospital.

The SUV was traveling with a family from Chicago, who was returning from a wedding in Florida. What caused the semi to bump the rear end of the SUV is still being investigated. This is a tragedy for the family involved. This family, including the Estates of the three deceased family members, will be able to make legal claims against FedEx for the injuries and deaths that resulted from this accident. Justice will require that their medical bills be paid, lost wages be reimbursed, compensation be given for their pain & suffering, and in the cases of the deceased family members, Kentucky law will allow for their Estates to recovery the lifetime of lost earning potentials, which will be substantial.
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Former Junction City Police Chief Jimmy Gipson has filed a Kentucky whistleblower lawsuit alleges he was fired by Mayor Jim Douglas in retaliation for calling another police agency after the mayor appeared to be drinking on the job. Gipson is seeking reinstatement to his former job, backpay and an unspecified amount of punitive damages for sullying his reputation. Junction City is also named as a defendant. It is alleged that Douglas fired Gipson, longtime police and fire chief in Junction City, on Dec. 29, 2011 without a public explanation. On Dec. 30, Gipson received an official letter signed by the mayor stating he was terminated for “insubordination and continual disregard for city policies.” The lawsuit alleges that Gipson was working inside the city firehouse Dec. 29 when Douglas drove up in a city vehicle and began to yell and act belligerently. Smelling alcohol on the mayor, Gipson called the Boyle County Sheriff’s Office, which passed the matter on to Kentucky State Police.

The Kentucky lawsuit claims that state police arrived and performed a portable Breathalyzer test on the Mayor and found his blood-alcohol content was .04. A person in Kentucky is guilty of a DUI if they operate a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .08 percent or higher. The suit further alleges that immediately after the incident, Gipson was called in to City Clerk Susan Music’s office and told to sign a resignation later and turn in his police gear. When Gipson refused, Douglas entered the office and fired him on the spot.

This is a classic case example of a Whistleblower lawsuit. The Kentucky Whistleblower statute is KRS 61.100 et seq. and requires that suit be filed within 90 days of the retaliatory action occurring. In cases like this, the Plaintiff is required to prove:
(1) that he was a government employee (as here a police officer);
(2) that he made a good faith report of a suspect legal violation to the proper authorities (as here he suspected drinking and driving, and reported it to law enforcement); and (3) that the report was a contributing and material factor in the decision made against him (the proximity in time between the report and the action taken against him, as is here the same day, will support such a finding).
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1302191_cross_of_carhuaz_beach.jpgA Kentucky federal lawsuit claiming religious discrimination against the University of Kentucky by a former professor has been settled prior to reaching a jury trial. The case was in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky, and the judge had ruled there was enough evidence for the case to go to a jury trial.

The allegations of the case were that Professor Martin Gaskell was considered to be the top candidate for UK’s director of it new observatory, until the University became concerned about Gaskell’s religious beliefs and how he coupled such with scientific beliefs.

UK has agreed to pay Gaskell $125,000.00 to settle the case. This is the equivalent of nearly two years salary for Gaskell, who has since found other employment.

In Kentucky, people who believe that they have been discriminated against in the workplace can file suit under federal anti-discrimination laws or under the Kentucky Civil Rights Act (KRS 344.010 et seq.) There claims are viewed under a multi-prong test which establishes the evidence and shifts burdens of proof. Discrimination cases can be very difficult and hard fought because in most cases they boil down to conflicting testimonies of what really happened and why it happened. Many times, employers will try to mask their discriminatory conduct by coming up with other reasons why they did what they did with regards to the employee. Because of such, these type of cases require a tremendous amount of time combing through documents, emails, and deposing witnesses.
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931543_-team_iii-.jpg Kentucky is an “employee at will” doctrine state. In Kentucky your employer can terminate you at any time, with or without reason, and you can quit at any time, with or without reason (provided there is not a written contract to the contrary). The Kentucky Supreme Court has interpreted the “employee at will” doctrine as meaning: “An employer can fire an employee for cause, without cause, or even for cause that may seem to be morally indefensible. It is only illegal if the employer violates a contract, retaliates against an employee for exercising certain legal rights or if the employer takes action in violation of a protected status (discriminates).”Kentucky employee’s have very limited protections against bad employers. If a Kentucky employee is fired or suffers negative consequences in the workplace, they must examine the below to consider if they have legal action against their employer.

It is illegal to:
(i) discriminate based upon race, gender, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, or disability;
(ii) require an employee to lie to a government authority or in an investigation, or take action against an employee who refuses to do such;
(iii) require an employee to violate the law, or take action against an employee who refuses to do such;
(iv) prevent an employee from reporting violation of the law, including civil statutes such as discrimination laws and/or suspected healthcare violations or dangers related to a medical patient’s care;
(v) take action against or fire an employee in violation of the terms of a specific written contract of employment between the employer and the employee.

Workplace Sexual Harassments & Harassments In order for work place harassment or discrimination to be actionable, it must be more than personality conflicts and a general dislike of a person, and it must be “severe and so pervasive” so that it “unreasonably interferes with a person’s ability to do his/her job.” Isolated acts or isolated comments are NOT sufficient under the law to rise to the level to be actionable in court.

Workplace Discrimination
Discrimination has to be based upon one of the following: race, gender, religion, national origin, age, pregnancy, or disability. These are referred to as protected statuses.
Under a discrimination legal action, the discrimination has to be evidenced by either:
(1) direct evidence, which would be the effect of verbally or in writing stating negative expressions or actions towards a person based one of the protected statuses above, or (2) indirect evidence, which would be a comparison between how protected status persons are treated versus how those who do not fall in the protected status are treated.
As with workplace harassments, the workplace discrimination will not be legally actionable if it is an isolated incident.

Government Employee Whistleblower Protections
It is illegal for a government agency to take action against an employee who in good faith reports a suspected violation of law, fraud, or abuse of authority, to the proper authorities or another government agency.
These persons are referred to as “Whistleblowers.”
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