Employee Files Whistleblower Lawsuit Against Local Business
By edhat staff
An employee of a local home furnishing store has filed a whistleblower lawsuit against their former employer claiming wrongful termination and emotional distress.
The employee, represented by Anticouni & Associates, claims the employer falsified a declaration and forged the employee's signature to defeat a Workers’ Compensation claim.
Anticouni & Associates, a Santa Barbara based employment law firm, announced the filing of an employment lawsuit in the Santa Barbara Superior Court against Celadon House, which operates retail furniture stores in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo.
The employee, Susanne Bjornson who worked in the Santa Barbara Celadon House retail store, alleges she was working the day a fellow employee was injured while moving furniture. The injured employee filed a Workers’ Compensation claim.
According to Anticouni & Associates, Celadon House did not have Workers’ Compensation insurance, which is a violation of California law. The lawsuit alleges that Cherisse Sweeney and Kelli
Thornton, the two owners of Celadon House, prepared a Declaration with Bjornson’s name without her knowledge.
The Declaration stated the injured employee had not moved furniture on the day of the injury and the employee did not report the injury. The lawsuit claims one of the two owners forged Bjornson’s
signature on the official document.
Bjornson claims she was never interviewed by the Celadon House owners about the injury and the statements attributed to her in the Declaration were false. The injured employee was subsequently denied Worker’ Compensation benefits and Bjornson was soon notified of the Declaration. The claim states Bjornson was concerned she might be implicated in an unlawful act and felt compelled to immediately resign her employment.
“When an employee is faced with working conditions so intolerable that reasonable person would have no other alternative except to resign, there has been a 'constructive' discharge of employment. The resignation is legally considered a termination of employment," said Bruce Anticouni. "The lawsuit alleges the Company forged Ms. Bjornson’s signature for an unlawful purpose. The two owners also violated the law by not having Workers’ Compensation insurance. Ms. Bjornson had no choice but to resign. Her forced termination was unlawful."
Edhat has reached out to Celadon House but they did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Below is the full copy of the complaint: