“Killer” Statement Fatal to Riverside Investigator’s Career

California Employment Law Letter

Elizabeth J. Boca, an Associate in the Employment, Labor & Workforce Management practice, in the firm’s San Francisco office, authored an article in the California Employment Law Letter, titled “‘Killer’ Statement Fatal to Riverside Investigator’s Career.”

Following is an excerpt:

Since Merenda was a member of a union, good cause was required for his termination. This is different from most California employees, who are presumed “at-will” employees. The OPD conducted an investigation, which included interviewing Merenda and witnesses. Merenda also participated in the union grievance process, including a hearing required under case law. Merenda admitted that his statement lacked judgment and damaged his credibility, but he claimed it was only a joke. He was eventually fired, and an arbitrator agreed with the OPD’s termination decision.

The case was ultimately presented to the appellate court, which was asked the following question: Did the single statement constitute good cause for Merenda’s termination?