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Termination question/ California

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  • Termination question/ California

    I am a corporate/commercial pilot. I was hired as a co-pilot to fly a jet for a health care company out of Sacramento. The 'chief pilot' (my immediate supervisor) was in charge of scheduling, maintenance, and logistics for the company. My job was to assist him with the operations of that aircraft. The airplane I was hired to fly had major mechanical problems that cause numerous delays and scrubbed flights. The owner of the airplane/company was furious at the delays and missed flights. The owner eventually fired the chief pilot and kept me as his co-pilot. My job description didn't change.
    The airplane continued to have mechanical difficulties (mostly due to the former chief pilot and his incompetence as a manager). The owner of the airplane continued to be irate at the continuing problems. Every time the airplane went down for maintenance, I would receive emails and text messages from the owner. Most of these emails were complaints about the down time and mean spirited in nature. Many I received during the evenings and weekeds.
    I announced to the company that my wife and I were having a child last fall and our daughter was born in early march of this year. My first chief pilot failed to find a contract replacement. I literally had to return to work 3 days after may daughter was born to fly the airplane. I had to leave my wife and newborn daughter in the care of a relative while I went back to work. The entire company, including the owner of the airplane, knew of my child's birth. They still demanded my presents at work.
    To make a long story short- the airplane continued to have mechanical problems and down time. The owner fired me over the phone last friday. His reason was I caused all of these problems even though I was never in a position of management nor could I make any decisions about the aircraft.
    They have since demanded that I sign a "mutual termination agreement" saying the end of employment was agreed upon by myself and the company. I refused to sign it. Now they are withholding any severance pay as a result. I was informed that if I signed the document, I would get one months pay. I was also told at my hiring last year that I would get 2 weeks paid vacation after 1 year of employment. I have worked at this company for 13 months. I was refused my vacation pay as well.
    I fear that signing the said document could jeopardize receiving unemployment benefits. With all being said: do I have any legal recourse against this company? I feel my employee, legal, and parental rights are being trampled on. I did nothing wrong and did everything within my job description. Any advice would be appreciated.

  • #2
    You have the right to have that agreement they asked you to sign reviewed by a CA attorney, and if you have concerns that may be your best bet.

    In terms of them firing you, it sounds stupid to me to blame a pilot for the mechanical problems of an aircraft (makes more sense to blame the mechanic). But there is nothing illegal (even in CA) about an er being stupid. Your er wants to "shoot the messenger" it is his right to make a dang fool of himself.

    The only issues you raised where I think you make make a case is with respect to them bringing you back to work after the baby and on the issue of the vacation pay. CA has its own way of doing things that are generally more liberal than the equivalent federal laws, but I am not familiar enough with the CA erquivalents to say exactly what is specified. I think I have seen posted here before by those more knowledgable about CA than me that CA is a state where vacation time is considered wages, and if that is correct, you would need to file a complaint with whatever CA agency covers that. I suspect someone more familiar with CA law will be able to anser that. The same goes for the issue of being called back to work after your child was born. Under the federal FMLA laws, you were entitled for up to 12 weeks leave for bonding with your baby IF: you have worked there more than 12 months (you said 13), you have worked there more than 1250 hours in the past year, and the company employes 50 or more people within a 75 mile radius. What those limits are under CA's laws I don't know and again must defer to someone more knowledgable about CA.
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    • #3
      Vacation pay at termination Ca:

      Q.
      What happens to my earned and accrued but unused vacation if I am discharged or quit my job?


      A.
      Under California law, unless otherwise stipulated by a collective bargaining agreement, whenever the employment relationship ends, for any reason whatsoever, and the employee has not used all of his or her earned and accrued vacation, the employer must pay the employee at his or her final rate of pay for all of his or her earned and accrued and unused vacation days. Labor Code Section 227.3. Because paid vacation benefits are considered wages, such pay must be included in the employee's final paycheck.

      http://www.dir.ca.gov/dlse/FAQ_Vacation.htm

      You can file a wage claim with the Ca. DLSE.

      Re FMLA & CFRA (Ca. "FMLA") for bonding/caring for baby the requirements are as above (as per The Masked Poster quoted) - worked for your employer for at least one year at time of leave, worked for your employer at least 1250 hrs. immediately preceding the leave & your employer has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius. You would get up to 12 weeks of job protected leave. Were all requirements meet?
      Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

      Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

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      • #4
        I did not work for the company for a year. 10 months at the time of the birth, but I have worked a total of 13 months.

        The main company is small, however it owns a dental chain along with several other companies. Although I don't know the exact number of employees at all of the companies, im sure it exceeds 50.

        Im not sure just how many hours I had. Im on call 24/7/365.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Astradriver View Post
          I did not work for the company for a year. 10 months at the time of the birth, but I have worked a total of 13 months.

          The main company is small, however it owns a dental chain along with several other companies. Although I don't know the exact number of employees at all of the companies, im sure it exceeds 50.

          Im not sure just how many hours I had. Im on call 24/7/365.
          You would not have qualified for FMLA or CFRA at the time the baby was born. (only worked there 10 mos.) Whether you would have qualified after working for your employer a year, I don't know. We don't know the # of hrs. you have worked for your employer at the one year mark & don't know if there are 50 or more employees "within a 75 mile radius of where you work."
          Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around. Leo Buscaglia

          Live in peace with animals. Animals bring love to our hearts and warmth to our souls.

          Comment

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