Being fired from a job is often traumatic. Whether the reason for the termination was budget cuts or restructuring, it stings to hear that your employer is cutting ties with you.
When the reasoning is not understandable or even seems illegal, the termination process can be unbearable. Under California law, there are certain reasons for which an employer may not fire a worker. If these laws are violated, the employee has the right to seek justice on the basis of wrongful termination.
Types Of Wrongful Termination
Though this topic may seem specific, there are many different ways in which an employer may fire an employee illegally. Under California and federal laws, certain criteria are protected and cannot be the reason for firing an employee. These criteria include:
A person may also be wrongfully terminated if the reason for firing has to do with retaliation for speaking out against illegal or unsafe behavior or if the termination violates a contract. Though a company may fire an individual for no cause at all in the state of California, if it is discovered that one of the above criteria creates the underlying cause for the termination, legal action may be taken.
Identifying a Wrongful Termination Case
Claiming a wrongful termination case can seem complicated. Many employers are aware of wrongful termination laws and will take action to make firings seem as though they are due to legal reasons.
It may take some investigative work to build evidence around your case, as many wrongful termination situations are carefully hidden under employer excuses. These are some key signs that your termination may have been illegal:
There is no one way to identify a wrongful termination case. However, many people instinctively understand when they have been a part of one. Whether you can provide concrete proof right away or not, wrongful termination should never be tolerated, and it is always worth seeking legal advice if you feel you have been mistreated.
Benefits and Wrongful Termination
Workers have the right to utilize the benefits that come with their employment. Though not every employee has the same benefits, they will be clearly spelled out at the time of hire. These benefits can include:
In some cases, an employer may grant these benefits but terminate an employee when they try to use them. This is completely illegal and is grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit. If you were granted benefits with your employment, you have earned the right to use them as you see fit. An employer must uphold their end of the bargain and allow you to use your benefits as spelled out in the terms of your employment. For example, it is unlawful for an employer to fire an employee because she is about to go on maternity leave because they don’t want to pay her for not being at work. Maternity leave is a legal right, and it would be wrongful termination if a person were to be let go for utilizing that right.
Retaliation and Wrongful Termination
It is important to remember that you have the right to stand up for yourself and uphold the law at work.
You are not obligated to engage in activities that are illegal or turn the other way if you see these activities occurring. If you speak up against illegal activity, you may not be fired as a result.
If you have recently approached your employer about something illegal that happened at work, or if you refused to engage in illegal activities when asked to, and you are fired, you have the right to a wrongful termination case.
At Will Laws and Wrongful Termination
In California, many workers are employed under “at-will” contracts.
This means that the employee may resign at any time and for any reason and that an employer may terminate the worker’s employment at any time for any reason. Many people mistakenly think that these laws protect them in a situation of discrimination or wrongful termination, but this is untrue.
If you are fired as an at-will employee, you still have the right to fight a wrongful termination lawsuit. Do not let this term stand in the way of seeking justice. The same laws against discrimination and retaliation work for at-will employees as for contracted ones.