You can be fired for many different reasons in California - or no reason at all - as most people have at-will employment relationships in our state. However, there are some bases for termination that are “wrongful” for different reasons. Employees who believe that they were wrongfully terminated have important rights under the law, and they should have a San Diego employment law attorney review their options as soon as possible.
Employment law firms have a thorough understanding of what constitutes wrongful termination, and the steps employees should take. It can be a challenging road to hold employers liable for wrongful termination and the losses you suffer, as employers will rarely admit liability. You want the right legal team behind you, advising you what to do or not to do and handling every step of the legal process.
Types of Wrongful Termination
Various employment laws prevent employers from taking adverse action against employees - including termination - for exercising their rights under the law. Doing so constitutes unlawful retaliation, and when retaliation takes the form of firing an employee, it is wrongful termination. It is also against the public policy of the State of California to fire someone for exercising a legal right or refusing to engage in illegal or unethical conduct.
The following are some examples of how employers might retaliate and engage in wrongful termination. If you believe your employer violated the law, seek help from a San Diego wrongful termination attorney right away.
Retaliation for Complaints of Discrimination or Harassment
Both federal laws and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit employers from discriminating against or allowing harassment of employees based on protected factors. Such factors include:
- Race, color, or national origin
- Sex and sexual orientation
- Gender and gender identity or expression
- Marital status
- Disability or medical condition
- Age (for employees over age 40)
- Military status
If you experience possible discrimination or harassment, you also have the right to raise concerns or file complaints about such conduct. If you complain of discrimination or harassment, and your employer turns around and fires you, it is likely a retaliatory act and wrongful termination.
Pregnancy or FMLA/CFRA
Gone are the days that women should fear for their jobs if they become pregnant or have a child. This is because pregnancy discrimination is prohibited as part of sex discrimination. If your employer learns you are pregnant - or considering becoming pregnant, and they terminate you, it can be a case for wrongful termination.
In addition, pregnant women and new parents have many leave rights under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA), and California Pregnancy Disability Leave (PDL) laws. If you request or take qualified leave, your employer cannot then retaliate against you by firing you. There are very limited circumstances under which you can be fired while on leave - and the reason for termination cannot involve your pregnancy, childbirth, or leave. If it does, you have legal rights.
Many companies engage in conduct that violates the law, and some employees have the courage to report the conduct - whether it is internally or externally to the authorities. In either situation, the law protects employees in this position - often called whistleblowers - from being terminated or otherwise retaliated against.
Whistleblowers might report:
- Criminal conduct
- Fraud against the government
- Wage and hour violations
- Discrimination and harassment
- Health and safety violations
Not surprisingly, employers often want to get such employees out of the organization as soon as possible, so whistleblowers are regularly the victims of wrongful termination.
Proving Your Case
Employers will generally deny the true unlawful reasons for your termination, and they might give a contextual reason instead. It is then your job to prove your employer’s justification was false, and that the real reason for your termination was wrongful. Needless to say, this can be challenging, and having the right legal assistance is key so you can prove your claim and seek the legal relief you deserve.
Let a San Diego Wrongful Termination Lawyer Evaluate Your Situation
No matter what the reason for your wrongful termination might be, it is important to hold your employer accountable for their actions - both for your own well-being and to help prevent your employer from engaging in similar conduct in the future. You want a San Diego wrongful termination attorney backing you up to make sure you receive the justice you deserve.
Do not wait to set up your consultation so our team can evaluate whether you have a case.
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