For the most part, an employer can terminate a working relationship at any time. Most employers in the state of California are at-will employers. Under California Labor Code 2922, all employment in California is presumed to be “at-will” unless both parties reach an agreement otherwise or there is an exception to at-will employment. This means that for the most part an employer can lay off employees because of reorganization, downsizing, bankruptcy, or even for no reason at all.
However, it is against the law for an employee to be terminated because of his or her race, religion, gender, or national origin or for engaging in a protected activity.
Were you recently fired? Do you believe you were wrongfully terminated? Below are several common examples of what wrongful termination in the workplace may look like.
The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides a protected leave from work if an employee meets the requirements and works for a covered employer. An employee’s right to both return to their job and not suffer retaliatory action is protected by the FMLA.
Pregnancy related wrongful termination is very common. If you were fired after giving birth to your child or were providing care for a loved one and were also covered under the FMLA, you may have a claim for wrongful termination.
One of the most common examples of wrongful termination is retaliatory action taken after an employee has filed a workers’ compensation claim. If you were hurt on the job and were immediately terminated once you applied for or began receiving benefits, you may have a claim against your employer.
Sexual harassment is unacceptable. Sexual harassment is against the law and retaliating against an employee who complains about or who participates in a sexual harassment investigation is also unlawful. This means that an employee who has been fired for complaining about sexual harassment may have a claim for harassment, whether he or she is currently employed or not
Sexual harassment is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and is not only wrong — it is illegal.
If you notice that an employer only seems to hire young people, it might not be your imagination. Most employers will never admit it, but they are exclusively in search of younger workers.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) exists to protect workers age 40 and older from age related discrimination. This includes all aspects of the employment process, from hiring to firing, and everything in between. Older workers have rights in the workplace and they also have the right to hold an employer accountable for wrongful termination.
California requires that most employers abide by certain rules, such as tracking hours, paying overtime, and providing rest and meal breaks for their employees. Wage and hour disputes are complex, but you do have legal protections as an employee and are entitled to receive what is lawfully due to you without suffering retaliatory action.
Overtime provisions in the state of California state that a nonexempt employee who is 18 years of age or older — or a minor employee who is 16 or 17 years of age and is not required to attend school, and/or is not prohibited by law from participating in the subject work — cannot be employed for more than eight hours in one workday or for more than forty hours in a workweek, unless that employee receives 1.5 times his or her regular pay rate for all hours that are worked over eight hours in a single workday and over 40 hours in a workweek.
Did you notice safety issues in the workplace, reported the violations to OSHA, and were then terminated after filing a complaint? This is a classic example of wrongful termination when it comes to whistleblower retaliation, which is a protected activity.
The California Occupational Safety and Health Act gives all employees the right to file a complaint about workplace safety and health hazards without suffering retaliatory action.
According to California’s wrongful constructive termination laws, an employee may be able to sue an employer for wrongful termination even when he or she is not actually terminated. Constructive termination occurs when an employer makes a working environment so intolerable or hostile that an employee feels he or she has no other choice but to quit.
An employee may be able to sue for wrongful constructive termination when:
An employee in the state of California may be able to sue his or her employer for wrongful termination if they are terminated because they participated in protected political activities or speech.
However, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution will not apply to terminations by private employers. California labor law, on the other hand, states that an employer cannot control an employees’ political activities, including speech. This means that an employee who is terminated because of political activity may sue for wrongful termination.
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The wrongful termination lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling wrongful termination cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a wrongful termination attorney in California, contact our office at 1-800-247-9235.
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