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San Diego judge dismisses woman's wrongful termination lawsuit

A woman's lawsuit against the city of Chula Vista citing wrongful termination was dismissed by a San Diego Superior Court judge last week. The judge said that due to California's at-will employee laws, her formal complaint could not be considered as a valid lawsuit.

The complaint was filed in January by a woman who was a former council aid for the city. She claimed that she was fired because she did not take orders to deposit a check for the city. She believed that there was a mistake with the check and she did not want to get into trouble for depositing it into the wrong bank account.

According to the woman, she was asked by the deputy mayor to deposit a check from Cox Communications, which the deputy mayor claimed was to sponsor an athletic event for area youth. The woman believed the check to be wrong because it was for the amount of $2,400. The company, however, had only promised to give $1,000 to the event.

Though the woman believed there was an error with the check, she said the deputy mayor told her to deposit it anyway and rejected her request to call Cox Communications to verify the amount of the check. Instead of following his instructions, the woman refused to deposit the check.

The woman's attorney argued that she was just trying to do the right thing. "That's what we want from our public employees," he stated.

Although she ultimately had been correct in her suspicion that she was not given proper instructions for depositing the check, she was fired due to her "inability to take direction," according to the deputy mayor. He added there had been prior accounts of similar problems.

The woman's attorney is expected to appeal the judge's decision, and must do so within 60 days with the 4th District Court of Appeal.

Source: Sign on San Diego, "Judge dismisses wrongful termination lawsuit," Wendy Fry, Dec. 9, 2011