There are many reasons why a person can be fired. While employers are allowed to fire employees for proper cause, the law prohibits termination of employment for certain reasons. It is important to consult with a Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyer as soon as you suspect that your firing was not lawful.
An experienced employment attorney can preserve critical evidence and be sure that you do not miss any filing deadlines. Your attorney will also handle all the communications with your former employer and their legal department. Attorneys speak with opposing parties to ensure that their clients do not accidentally say or do anything that could hurt their legal claims. This is just one of many critical steps a lawyer takes to protect your legal rights after a wrongful termination.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Termination of employment is illegal when it is based upon the employee’s status in a protected class. Protected classes include:
- Age (over forty)
- Disabilities protected by the ADA (which also requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for an employee’s disability)
- Gender identity and expression
In addition to these protected classes, there are also many employment laws that contain “anti-retaliation” provisions. These laws protect a worker from being fired because he or she exercised legal rights. Some rights include reporting a wage or hour violation, making a complaint about leave violations under the FMLA and CFRA, or reporting illegal activity to the appropriate authorities are just a few examples of protected activity. No retaliation - up to and including termination - is allowed against employees who exercise their rights under these employment laws.
Whistleblowing occurs when an employee has the courage to report the unlawful activity of an employer to the proper authorities. While this protects the public and employees of the company, whistleblowers are commonly terminated. The law has many protections that prohibit the wrongful termination of whistleblowers.
Retaliation might be common against employees taking leave under FMLA or CFRA. You might have experienced such retaliation if your employer fired you instead of recognizing your right to take protected leave under these laws or because you requested qualified leave. You should not be afraid to take leave for a medical condition, pregnancy, or another qualified reason because you think you might lose your job.
There are many potential legal claims that can arise from a wrongful termination, and it is critical that you consult with an attorney to protect all of your legal rights. As you can imagine, employers rarely admit that they are firing an employee for one of these protected reasons. Instead, the employer will likely find a lawful reason to use as a pretext for the termination. There are many reasons that form lawful grounds for terminating employment.
What Is Not Wrongful Termination?
As painful as a firing can be, it is not always illegal. There are many legitimate reasons for terminating an employment relationship. This can include downsizing, restructuring, and other managerial decisions made necessary by economic conditions or staffing needs. The employer might need someone who can take on additional responsibilities or perform additional tasks.
Of course, unsatisfactory performance is a common reason for terminating employment. If an employer has documented a history of misconduct, this makes a strong case for lawful termination, but it is not necessary. Even a single instance of misconduct can be grounds for a lawful termination if it is not being used as a pretext for wrongful termination.
How Do I Prove That My Termination Was Wrongful?
Provoking a wrongful termination case can be incredibly difficult. Most employers are wise enough not to admit that they have ended your employment for an illegal reason. Employers also have human resources staff, and these employees’ sole job is to protect the employer from legal claims like wrongful termination lawsuits.
It is critical that you get your own legal advice from an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible after your employment is terminated. Only a lawyer who is on your side will give you a fair assessment of your potential legal claims. Remember, the HR department and company lawyers are there to protect your employer - not you.
The sooner you have an employment lawyer in your corner, the better protected your legal rights will be. Attorneys take steps to preserve evidence and meet legal deadlines. Your lawyer will also handle all communications with your former employer to prevent you from inadvertently saying something that could hurt your claim. Contact an experienced Los Angeles employment law attorney as soon as possible any time that you suspect wrongful termination.
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