Whistleblower Lawsuit Filed Against Local California Business

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Susanne Bjornson, a former employee of a local home furnishing store, filed a whistleblower lawsuit claiming wrongful termination and emotional distress. Bjornson claims that her previous employer falsified a declaration and forged her signature in order to defeat a valid Workers’ Compensation claim. Bjornson filed an employment lawsuit in the Santa Barbara Superior Court against Celadon House.

Celadon House operates retail furniture stores in both Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Bjornson, who was employed at the Santa Barbara retail location, alleges she was working on the day that one of her co-workers was injured in the course of moving some furniture. The employee who sustained the injury filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.

According to the plaintiff’s legal counsel, Celadon House did not carry Workers’ Compensation insurance (a violation of California law). The two owners of Celadon House, Kelli Thornton and Cherisse Sweeney, allegedly prepared a Declaration including Bjornson’s name without her knowledge or consent. In the Declaration, it stated that the injured employee had not moved furniture on the day they sustained their injury and that the employee did not report the injury. Allegedly, one of the two Celadon House owners then completed the false Declaration with Bjornson’s forged signature.

Bjornson insists she was never questioned by the two owners or anyone else at the company about the injury or the day the injury was sustained and that the statements that are being attributed to her in the official Declaration document are false. Due to the false Declaration, the injured employee’s Workers’ Compensation benefits were denied. Soon after the denial, Bjornson was notified of the Declaration. Bjornson, fearing that she could be implicated in an unlawful act, felt compelled to immediately resign her position with Celadon House.

The plaintiff’s counsel argues that as the working conditions were so intolerable that Bjornson, as a reasonable person, had no other alternative than to resign her employment, it constitutes a “constructive” discharge of employment – meaning that the resignation is equal to termination.

If you have questions about what constitutes wrongful termination or if you have been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.

Whistleblower Retaliation Lawsuit Filed Against Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital

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According to a lawsuit filed recently by the former Aurora Santa Rosa Hospital Chief of Nursing Officer, Teresa Brooke, Aurora Behavioral Healthcare fired her for advocating for safety measures. Defendants listed in the suit are Aurora Behavioral Healthcare – Santa Rosa, LLC and Signature Healthcare Services, LLC in Sonoma County Superior Court. The facility where Brooke was employed is an acute psychiatric facility in Sonoma County that is operated by the two companies.

In Brooke’s complaint, she provides details for numerous examples of dangerous conditions that existed at the facility. One such dangerous conditions Brooke attempted to bring to light were severe staff shortages resulting in injuries to both patients and staff. Brooke maintains that Aurora wrongfully terminated Brooke in response to her complaints both internally and to a government agency about the matter. 

Brooke has 30 years of experience in her field of nursing and hospital management. She states that the conditions that were evident at Aurora were dangerous and unlike anything she had previously seen or experienced. The constant staff shortages were brought on by the meager budget that was provided by Aurora’s corporate leadership at Signature Healthcare Services, LLC. Brooke saw the obvious result of such shortages – injuries – frequent injuries among both patients and Aurora staff.

Other allegations included in Brooke’s complaint as a result of the staff shortages:

·       Staff and patients were subjected to consistent punching, kicking, chocking, etc.

·       A full-blown patient riot.

·       High rates of patient self-harm.

·       Multiple occurrences of sexual violence in connection to patients (some minors).

Brooke’s alleges that both Aurora and Signature prioritize their bottom line over patient care and safety – as well as prizing a profit more than respecting the rights of patients and/or staff at the Santa Rosa location where patients receive inpatient care, partial hospitalization and outpatient mental health care for patients aged teen through adult. Other facility locations are currently in operation in California, Illinois, Arizona, Massachusetts, Texas and Nevada.

If you are experiencing retaliation in the workplace or if you have been wrongfully terminated, please get in touch with one of the experienced California employment law attorneys at Blumenthal Nordrehaug Bhowmik De Blouw LLP.