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Wrongful Termination Laws
In some states, including California, most employer/employee relationships are considered “at will”. An at-will employment means that the employer and/or the employee can stop the employment relationship for any reason, without or with cause. However, retaliatory reasons or unlawful motivation for termination is one exception for ending an at-will work relationship.
Under California law, an employer may not fire an employee based on:
- Race, sex, religion, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, or some other protected classification
- Requesting an accommodation
- Taking time off for maternity and/or pregnancy leave
- Serving on jury duty
- Opposing to conduct unlawful activity
- Refusing to sign an unlawful non-compete clause
- Taking medical and/or family leave
- Refusing to enter an unsafe workplace
- Taking the time to vote
- Family or marital status
- Demanding lunch breaks, rest breaks, or overtime
The Info You Need To Have
Knowing when to contact a wrongful termination lawyer is one of the most important bits of information employees need to know. If an employment contract has a specified term (for instance a certain length, number of years, etc.) or certain conditions that are to be met and that contract is breached, (for example if the worker is fired before the specified conditions or terms are not met) this can give allowance to a wrongful termination claim and should be investigated by a wrongful termination attorney.
An implied contract between an employee and the employer can also prevent unjust firing. These can be informal implied contracts and will be up to the court to decide if such a condition existed. The court bases this decision on a variety of factors including the employer's policies, performance evaluations of the employee, promises of job security, and their employee handbook. Tell your wrongful termination attorneys if you believe you have an implied contract with your employer.
Sneaky Employer Actions to Try and Limit Damage
“Constructive wrongful termination” or “wrongful constructive discharge” are forms of wrongful termination in the state of California. This is when an employee is driven to quit, rather than be fired because the working conditions are so horrible that he or she is essentially left with no option or forced out. The law states that if conditions or treatment is so severe that a reasonable person could not continue working in the environment any longer, then a worker may quit and can seek damages for the wages lost.
Finally, in California specifically, employees cannot be fired when the termination is based on a reason that is contrary to public policy. Wrongful termination in violation of public policy is originated as non-statutory, common law tort type of claim that limits California “at will” employment presumption.
The Three Wrongful Termination Violations
There are three main reasons for termination that constitute violations of public policy:
- Refusing to violate a law: if an employer tells you to do something which you know to be against the law, and you refuse, you cannot be fired for refusing to break the law.
- Performing a legal obligation: if you are legally required to do something, your employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline you for obeying the law.
- Exercising a legal or constitutional right: if you have a legal right to engage in a certain type of activity (political association, free speech, etc.) your employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline you for engaging in that activity.
Obtain Your Free Consultation
Issues regarding wrongful termination can be highly complex and many specific facts and certain information may come into play. If you feel you have been a victim of wrongful termination, you can rely on the lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley to evaluate your claim and provide alternative courses of action.
You may have a lot of options available to you. We will help you evaluate those options.
Although you might have been wrongfully terminated, your employer may not react without you filing a wrongful termination suit with the help of an experienced labor lawyer. When you file a wrongful termination lawsuit, the employer may want to settle out of court, which, if agreeable to you, would effectively end the lawsuit, or you might end up in court. Consult with your employment attorney to find the best course of action for your particular case.
Other than a court, another method of seeking justice is to have the case arbitrated. In fact, if you have signed a mandatory arbitration agreement as part of your employment, you may be required to do this rather than court. Although an employment lawyer isn't necessary for arbitration, it is a good idea and is, in fact, the recommendation of the American Arbitration Association.