WRONGFUL TERMINATION

WRONGFUL TERMINATION 

A key area of employment law litigation is wrongful discharge, also known as wrongful termination. If you are an employee and believe you were terminated illegally, you may have a case against your employer. Or if you are an employer who has recently terminated an employee, you may need legal advice in case the employee files a wrongful termination action.
In California, a wrongful discharge case usually comes under one of the following categories:
  • Violation of employment contract
  • Discrimination cases
  • Whistleblower/Public policy cases
Discrimination in the workplace can include creating what is known as a “hostile work environment,” where it becomes extremely uncomfortable for the employee to continue working.
Unless an employee has a written employment contract, most workers in California are under a system known as “at will employment,” which means, among other things, that employers can terminate employees at will without any explanation. In other words, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without cause (just as an employee can quit for any or no reason at any time). However, there are very specific exceptions to the “employment at will” rules and an employee can sue for wrongful termination under any of these exceptions:
  • Violations of existing employment contracts
  • Fraud or misrepresentation
  • “Implied contracts” (such as employment related promises made in employee handbooks)
  • Retaliatory discharge (such as whistleblowing claims)
  • Violations of public policy (such as discrimination)
Another form of wrongful termination is called “constructive discharge.” This happens when the employee is not fired but quits because the work conditions are so horrible that he or she has been effectively forced out. Under California law, if the conditions of employment are so severe that a reasonable person could not consider working any longer in that environment, then the person may quit and sue for damages for lost wages. However, employees can not merely quit and sue after an isolated incidence of harassment or because work conditions are less than perfect. Employees should document their attempts to remedy the situation with their employer, and only consider quitting and suing for damages if things do not improve and the work environment becomes intolerable.
Examples Of Wrongful and Unlawful Termination
Some examples of wrongful termination are listed below. Under California law, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for any of the following reasons:
  • Race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age, or some other protected classification
  • Reporting unsafe work conditions
  • Retaliation for reporting any suspected illegal activity to a government agency (such as a whistleblower’s claim)
  • Opposing an illegal activity by the employer
  • Demanding legally required rest or lunch breaks
  • Requesting an accommodation for a disability
  • Taking pregnancy leave, family leave, or medical leave
  • Refusing to work in an unsafe area
  • Taking time to vote
  • Political affiliation
  • Marital or family status
  • Serving on jury duty
  • Refusing to sign an unlawful non-competition agreement
  • Reporting sexual harassment
  • Filing a workers’ compensation claim
  • Taking advantage of any employer provided benefit
  • Supporting a co-worker’s claim of sexual harassment or discrimination
If you think there may be a violation, speak to a wrongful termination lawyer. Call David. Now. 310-606-0065.
Share by: