Updated: Jun 26
Although most workers in California may be terminated at will (for any reason), in some instances, termination is unlawful. In such cases, a fired worker might also sue for wrongful termination.
Many employees in California are have the wrong belief that they have no legal protection from being fired in all instances. However, the truth is that in some cases employment termination in the state of California is against the law.
As a result, it is essential to understand when is illegal to be fired from your job and what to do to protect your employee rights.
It is true that many workers in California are employed with an “at-will” employment agreement, this means your employer can fire you for any legal reason. For example, if you are always late, do not perform your job the way you are supposed to, or if you prevent other employees to perform their job duties.
In general, employees in California who do not meet the requirements set forth by their employer may be fired at any time and for any "legal" reason.
However, there're many exceptions to at-will employment in the state of California. If the company violates a statute or public policy by terminating a worker, a wrongful termination has occurred.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, one of the nation’s most powerful protections against wrongful termination, it is unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees in the basis of:
Mental or physical disability
Religion or religious practices
Pregnancy or maternity leave
Sexual orientation or gender identity
If the selection to terminate the employee became motivated through any of those factors, even if best partially, the termination is illegal under the law. In such instances, the wronged worker may file a wrongful termination case.
Similarly, if there were many reasons for the termination, a wrongful termination may additionally occur if any unlawful motive turned into greater than a trivial factor in the selection.
In addition to these factors, wrongful termination occurs while an employee is terminated because the employee exercised his or her employee rights. Common examples whilst this occurs are while an employee is terminated because of pregnancy, maternity leave or reporting sexual harassment.
Additionally, it's illegal to terminate an employee due to the fact he or she suggested the company's illegal behavior or unlawful and hazardous working situations to authorities (also known as “whistleblowing”).
Employees that feel they are victims of wrongful termination in Los Angeles have the right to seek compensation by filing a lawsuit against their former employers. Under the law, wronged employees might also recover monetary damages, such as lack of past and destiny wages and benefits. In addition, emotional damages can be recovered. If the company’s behavior is specifically malicious or reprehensible, punitive damages can be presented as well.
An Employment Attorney Can Help
The outcome of a wrongful termination lawsuit regularly depends on the facts surrounding the termination of employment. Consequently, it's vital to consult with an skilled and more importantly, pre-screened California employment attorney so he or she can help you assess your legal options and possible avenues to seek compensation.