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Did accounting irregularities lead to a wrongful termination?

Older California residents may remember that Ray Charles never let his blindness keep him from entertaining people with a smile. Later in his life, he lent his name to an organization called the Ray Charles Foundation. Recently, the foundation has come under scrutiny because one of its former employees claims that she is the victim of wrongful termination.

The employee in question began working in the organization’s accounting department back in 2014. She claims that at the beginning of 2018, she discovered some irregularities in the records and reported them to her superiors. She found what she believes to be fraudulent transactions covering unauthorized expenses such as home improvements, travel and a vehicle purchase, along with other questionable accounting entries.

The employee claims that after she complained her superiors began excluding her from certain work activities such as board meetings and other work functions she previously attended. Eventually, in July 2018, she was terminated. She alleges that this happened because she came forward about the fraudulent accounting entries.

In fact, the woman claims she was not the only one who was let go. Even board members were not safe. Recently, she filed a lawsuit alleging several workplace violations, including wrongful termination.

Both California and federal law protect workers who report issues such as this one from retaliation by an employer. Wrongful termination constitutes a form of retaliation, and an employee who believes that he or she was fired for coming forward regarding unsavory or unsafe activities within a company could have grounds to pursue restitution in civil court. A successful claim could result in monetary and, depending on the situation, nonmonetary awards of damages.