Updated: Mar 4
Wrongful Termination is Illegal In California, Learn About Your Rights
When an employee has been unlawfully fired or laid off from his or her job, wrongful termination has occurred. California is an at-will state, meaning that without offering cause or reason, employers may fire an employee. Likewise, an employee can also leave at any time.
Wrongful termination happens when an employee is fired because of unfair practices in the workplace, whether in the course of firing the employee, the company breaches public policy, or if the company's own termination procedures have not been followed.
In addition, if you disclose problems at work such as a lack of safety in the workplace or disclose any criminal activity in which your employer is involved, being fired for blowing the whistle on your employer is illegal.
In California, the following are some of the most well-known cases of wrongful termination.
California Wrongful Termination Due to Sexual Harassment And A Hostile Work Environment
The 1967 Civil Rights Title VII states that sexual harassment in the workplace is unconstitutional. You will be able to be compensated in a wrongful termination lawsuit for back pay, get you reinstated to your position, and may even be able to get punitive damages and attorney's fees.
Sexual harassment is so rampant and entrenched in the culture in some workplaces that it leads to a toxic work atmosphere where workers fail to perform their job duties productively and efficiently. In some cases, workers are forced to leave because they can no longer bear abuse.
You may be entitled to file a wrongful termination claim and seek compensation not just for monetary damages, but also for the mental pain and suffering if you have been sexually harassed at work and claim that you were fired because of it, as punishment for complaining about it or leaving your job because you just couldn't take it anymore.
California Wrongful Termination Due To Race Discrimination
State and federal laws prohibit being treated differently in the workplace because of race or skin color. Any employee being discriminated against because of their race has a strong wrongful termination case against their employer.
Racial discrimination in the workplace may also involve the segregation of employees of a specific race, decision-making on recruiting, firing, or promoting employees based on race, racial stereotyping, or skin color differentiation.
You may have a valid argument for unfair termination when such discriminatory policies establish a hostile work environment or if you are terminated because of racial discrimination or for complaining about it.
California Wrongful Termination After Filing a Workers' Compensation Claim
Another common situation that might result in unfair firing is retribution for workers ' compensation. In such situations, after he or she has filed a workers ' compensation claim due to an injury sustained at work, employers can fire or lay off an employee.
It is also forbidden for employers to fire or threaten to fire employees who testify in a workers ' compensation case on behalf of another employee. In the past, California courts have also found that it is unconstitutional for employers to discriminate against workers due to a work-related accident for missing work.
Likewise, when a worker becomes disabled due to a work-related accident, discrimination based on that disability is prohibited by California law. It is also against the state and federal laws for employers to terminate employees who are involved in any type of medical treatment programs.
California Wrongful Termination Due to Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)
The FMLA Act provides for safe work leave when workers are sick, need to take care of a loved one or family member who is sick or cares for a child or newborn baby.
Employees in California have the right to request FMLA and return to their jobs free of retribution. To be protected by the legislation, private companies have to have 50 or more employees for at least 20 weeks a year.
California employees are eligible for FMLA leave if they have served for a period of one year and a period of 1,250 hours at work. For the following purposes, qualifying workers may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave.
A child's birth and/or medical treatment.
If you need to attend to a medical treatment of a foster or adopted child.
You are caring for a member of your family who suffers from a severe medical condition.
If the employee has a medical issue which prevents him or her from doing his or her job.
For Caring for an armed forces member who is seeking medical attention for a serious injury or disease.
You could have a very good wrongful termination claim if you have been fired as a result of taking family or medical leave to which you are entitled under the law.
California Wrongful Termination Due to Unpaid Salaries And Benefits
You are be entitled to file a wrongful termination case if you were in disagreement with your boss over unpaid salaries, commissions, or overtime and were fired as a result. Disputes over salaries and hours can be dynamic and intimidating. But, under California and federal rules, you have legal rights as an employee.
The common wage and hour violations in California are failure to pay minimum wage, failure to allow staff to take a break or meal breaks, failure to pay workers overtime as mandated by labor laws, and misclassification of employees.
If you file a wrongful termination case over wage and hour disagreements with your boss, you must gather all supporting documentation, including pay stubs, job contracts, business practices, schedules, etc. Such paperwork will help support your claim and serve as useful evidence.
California Wrongful Termination Because of Whistleblower Retribution
You could also have a valid wrongful termination case if you have reported criminal conduct on the part of your employer and have been fired as a result.
For instance, if you reported sexual harassment to the human resources department of the organization in your workplace and were fired immediately afterward, it is an indication that your employer fired you in retaliation for reporting the harassment.
If you were terminated immediately after blowing the whistle on criminal activities at your workplace, such as safety violations, theft, etc., you might also have a strong wrongful termination case.
How to Find a California Wrongful Termination Lawyer.
Locating a competent, ethical and reliable wrongful termination lawyer is paramount to the successful outcome of your case. Unfortunately, most people don't conduct the necessary due diligence before hiring a wrongful termination lawyer.
It's important to check credentials, verify experience, make sure the attorney has a tracking record of ethical conduct, top performance, and that he or she is in good standing with the California State Bar.
You can also request an unbiased and impartial lawyer referral from an accredited organization. Get a lawyer referral 24 hours a day by submitting your case details here or by calling 661-310-7999. Your case will be assessed within 15 minutes.