Fontana Unified Police Dispatcher Awarded in Wrongful Termination Case

July 21, 2015 - Jolee Berdnik, a police dispatcher, formerly with the Fontana Unified School District, alleges that she was fired from her position as a result of reporting an officer who was accused of sexual assault and rape of fellow dispatchers. After a month long trial, the jury verdict came back in her favor, awarding the wrongfully terminated police dispatcher over $315,000.

Berdnik’s 2012 wrongful termination lawsuit claimed that she was let go in retaliation for reporting officer John Garcia’s alleged conduct. Her superiors responded to her report of Officer Garcia’s behavior by terminating her from her position.

Three other current and former employees of Fontana Unified’s police division have made claims that Officer Garcia sexually assaulted or raped them on the school grounds. All three attacks allegedly took place in 2010 and 2011. All three have obtained representation to pursue legal recourse. 

After an investigation into the allegations originally reported by Berdnik, Officer Garcia was fired from his job, but he was not brought up to face official criminal charges.

If you are unclear what it means to be wrongfully terminated from your position review the standard definition of the phrase below:

Wrongful termination – a broad term/phrase that has a very specific legal meaning. Many individuals are terminated from their positions. And many will feel that the loss of their employment is “wrongful.” But the legal definition of “wrongful termination” is limited to only those very specific circumstances in which an employee is fired from their job for an illegal reason.

Common reasons that constitute “wrongful termination” include: your sex, your age, your race, your religion, complaints of sexual harassment, or reporting company wrongdoing to authorities (whistleblowing).

If you need additional assistance in determining whether or not you have been the victim of wrongful termination, please get in touch with the southern California employment law experts at Blumenthal, Nordrehaug & Bhowmik.