An insurance fraud investigator settled her lawsuit with her former employer, in which she alleged she was ordered to work in conditions that put her at risk of contracting the coronavirus and then was fired in 2020 when she complained.
Brittany Nicole Noh’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against Fraud Fighters Inc. was filed in April 2020 and alleged wrongful termination and various violations of the state labor code. Her attorneys filed a notice of settlement with Judge Curtis A. Kin on Dec. 29, according to a minute order filed by the judge’s clerk.
In their court papers, Fraud Fighters attorneys denied any wrongdoing on the part of the company, saying that earlier on the same day in March 2020 that she was laid off, a Fraud Fighters client for whom the plaintiff had specifically been hired to service and which was paying for her compensation and benefits, terminated their dealings with Fraud Fighters.
“What matters is that the client’s program 22 was ended by the client — for whatever reason — which directly and immediately led to plaintiff’s termination by Fraud Fighters as both the need for the job and its funding went away,” the Fraud Fighters lawyers stated in their court papers.
But according to her suit, the 31-year-old Noh believed that management’s alleged orders to keep working in the field and interact with the public would, if followed, subject the plaintiff, her co-workers and others to serious physical harm or death.
Fraud Fighters’ decision to fire the plaintiff “devastated Ms. Noh, who continues to suffer and has lost a job that she cared deeply for,” the suit stated.
Noh was hired by the company in July 2019 and began working as a rapid response investigator, the suit states. The Irvine-based firm primarily serves insurance companies and employers in workers compensation cases, employer liability, disability claims and employee leave requests.
Fraud Fighters services include investigating and surveilling employees in public and on social media to gather evidence debunking employees’ injury claims, according to the suit.
Noh often worked from home in Los Angeles, researching online and drafting investigative reports and at other times she looked into claims at Reliant Urgent Care in Los Angeles, where she interacted with doctors, medical personnel and the general public, according to her suit.
Initially, Fraud Fighters CEO and president Todd Montgomery Gullett praised Noh for her work and her salary was increased by $7,000 annually to reward her, according to the complaint. Noh continued reporting to work and fulfilling her duties even after the global COVID-19 outbreak began spreading to California, the suit states.
In March 2020, the county of Los Angeles Department of Public Health and the Orange County Health Officer mandated that businesses and entities establish social distancing guidelines and further ordered that there be no public gatherings and that non-essential employees remain in their homes rather than in offices, the suit states.
Noh did not qualify as an employee whose services were needed to maintain continuity of operations of the federal critical infrastructure sectors, the suit stated. However, Gullett sent internal emails in March 2020 that said employees would continue operating in surveillance activities, the suit states.
When Noh learned of the Los Angeles and Orange counties orders, she told Gullett that she would be exposed to extreme danger if forced to continue investigation operations in the general public, in particular at Reliant Urgent Care, where people infected with COVID-19 likely would be treated, the suit stated.
Most of the people who Noh interviewed at Reliant Urgent Care worked at Los Angeles International Airport, which reported March 18, 2020, that about nine LAX employees were infected with COVID-19.
“Ms. Noh also feared that such operations would violate applicable rules, laws, orders and regulations,” the suit stated.
But Fraud Fighters management told Noh to continue working in the field and at Reliant Urgent care so long as she was not infected, according to the suit.
“Gullett further warned that if Ms. Noh refused to work among the general public, then she would no longer receive pay,” the suit stated.