Northern California Record

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Law professor: 'Training employees' may help reduce Sacramento's risk of lawsuit settlements

Lawsuits

By Carrie Bradon | Apr 23, 2019


SACRAMENTO – The city of Sacramento has settled a claim involving a wrongfully terminated employee for $860,000.

According to WorkCompCentral.com, MaryAnn Canelli, who was employed as the city’s human resources program analyst, was terminated after filing a claim with workers' compensation following a workplace incident in 2015. She filed a lawsuit against the city in the Sacramento County Superior Court in 2017.

The payout to Canelli is not out of the ordinary, however, as the city settled 24 lawsuits in 2018, paying a total of $2.8 million in settlements.

With such large settlements, it begs the question of whether the city should be taking more proactive steps to decrease the payouts it is having to make. 

Julie Davies of the McGeorge School of Law commented on the situation. 

“I think the takeaway on the wrongful termination is always that people in positions of power (to hire/fire/retaliate/changes terms and conditions of employment) need to be very careful in exercising that power,” Davies told the Northern California Record. “They need to understand what the law requires and observe it.”

Settlements, Davies said, can be good indicators of the wrongdoing in an incident and as such offer important information.

“Many times settlements paid may reflect that things were not done as they should be. While settlements typically include acknowledgements that neither side is at fault, large settlements paid after lawsuits are filed may indicate a need to look at the processes in place in certain departments,” Davies said. 

Davies also said that decisions to settle can be the wiser course of action, especially when there may be uncertain exposure at trial for one or both parties. As for the $2.8 million in settlements and the city’s course of action for the future, Davies believes that there is a lesson to be learned.

“While the city can’t guarantee that it won’t get sued in relation to any given act or omission, training employees and making sure that they observe the training is the major way to reduce risk,” Davies said.

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Organizations in this Story

City of Sacramento McGeorge School of Law Sacramento County Superior Court

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