Defining Wrongful Termination Under California Labor Law
Regardless of what you do at work, you cannot be fired for illegal reasons. Even if you're working at your employer's discretion, you cannot be fired because of the worker protections under California Employment Law. So if you were recently terminated for any of the reasons we'll discuss below, that qualifies as Wrongful Termination in California.
What is Wrongful Termination?
An employer may not fire or terminate an employee for criminal grounds in California. These reasons could be:
Discriminatory (firing an employee for being a member of a protected group or possessing protected characteristics)
Retaliatory (firing an employee for fulfilling a legal responsibility or reporting an employer or coworker to related agencies).
Even though the employee is designated as "at-will," they may be eligible for Wrongful Termination if their situation meets the criteria.
Some of these acts are illegal, while others only require the employer to compensate the fired employee for lost wages and other expenditures.
Furthermore, in some California Wrongful Termination Cases, the company may be forced to pay punitive damages to the fired employee. On the other hand, others may result in the wrongdoer being held accountable for damages caused by several offenders.
What Constitutes an Illegal Reason for Terminating an Employee?
While your employer is within their rights to fire anyone for violating workplace rules or performing poorly at work, they still can't violate California worker protections and public policies.
If your employer fired you for any of the following reasons, you could file a Wrongful Termination Claim in California:
1. Breach Of Employment Contract
Your employer is legally obligated to honor a contract that states you will be working with them for a specific period of time. This contract should also include other clauses that your employer might not violate.
When a company fires a worker for violating a contract, the former employee has the right to file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
2. Discrimination Claims
It is illegal to discriminate against employees based on specified qualities. This is especially critical when the discrimination affects employment decisions—such as hiring, firing, and promoting—related to the said employee.
The following are some examples of potential discrimination claims:
Additionally, a company or employer cannot fire a worker for exercising or enforcing their rights. For example, if an employee files a harassment complaint, takes medical leave, serves on a jury, or files a workers' compensation claim, they are protected against reprisal.
3. Violations of Public Policy
There are some critical distinctions between claims alleging public policy violations and allegations alleging retaliation.
Remember: It is not necessary for an allegation of infringement of public policy to be based on a specific statute or law.
Important Caveats About Terminating Employees
As a caveat, mass layoffs, poor performance, force reductions, closure, or an employee's fault activity are all valid reasons to fire workers.
To fully comprehend the details of your claim, you need to speak with a California Labor Lawyer.
What Proof Is Required in California to Prove a Wrongful Termination Claim?
When fighting for your rights, you need to have proof of the violations your employer, coworkers, and HR committed. Here are a few that you might be able to acquire yourself:
Photo and video documentation. Keep track of the indications if you feel you're being discriminated against or retaliated against. For example, take images of your employer or HR ignoring coworkers who are discriminating against you. However, you should be aware that gathering this type of proof (i.e., filming another person) can escalate existing tensions and animosities, so proceed with caution.
Messages. Your work emails, chat rooms, and text messages could be proof that you're being discriminated against, harassed, or retaliated against. Keep any emails or discussions in which your employer or HR explicitly implies that you're being fired for illegal reasons.
Employment documents. These documents could be used as proof that your employer has begun to retaliate against you (i.e., demotions, suspensions, and pay cuts). So if you've recently filed an Employment Law Claim with an agency, these are very crucial to keep an eye on.
However, when you hire a good California Employment Law Attorney, they could do investigations and gather the evidence for you.