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Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case in California?

Home » Do I Have a Wrongful Termination Case in California?

Wrongful termination is one of the most misunderstood legal concepts of employment law. It is not uncommon for employees across industries to assume they must make a serious mistake, break the law, or violate a company policy to qualify for termination. It is an equally common belief that at-will employment laws give employers excessive latitude to fire employees whenever they like for any reason or no reason at all.

The reality is that in California and most other states, employers and employees function on an “at-will” basis. This means both the employer and employee have the right to terminate an employment agreement at any time, with or without a reason, and with or without prior notice.

“At Will” Employment Agreements in California

While the at will employment system may sound like it gives employers the unfair advantage of having the ability to fire an employee at any time for little reason or no reason at all, in actuality, this is much more complex. In fact, firing employees “at will” is not usually in an employer’s best interests. Recruiting, interviewing, hiring, training, and firing all incur operating costs. A high turnover rate can easily deter exceptionally talented applicants from applying to a company. It is typically in a company’s best interests to invest in their employees and keep them onboard for as long as possible while helping to expand their professional skills.

Similarly, it is not in an employee’s best interests to simply quit a job without a good reason and without providing advance notice. This is an unattractive pattern for prospective employers, and most companies will not want to hire an applicant that has a history of leaving jobs with no notice and no reason. Ultimately, the at-will employment system exists to provide flexibility to both employers and employees, granting the former the ability to run their companies as they see fit and make changes when necessary as quickly as possible, granting the latter the ability to leave a job without facing an inordinate amount of red tape.

The at-will employment system may seem unbalanced, and it grants employers the ability to fire employees whenever they like. However, it does not grant them carte blanche to fire

Defining a Wrongful Termination

Employers in California and throughout the United States may not fire employees for illegal reasons. If you’re wondering whether you have been wrongfully terminated and have grounds for a lawsuit against a former employer, you must first determine whether your firing was illegal. Remember, it is very easy for an employer to claim your firing was under the at-will employment law of the state, but if you have evidence to support the employer’s true motivation for your firing, you may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.

A Los Angeles, California employment law attorney can help you determine whether your firing was illegal. Some of the most common types of wrongful termination lawsuits include:

  • Breach of contract. If you had an employment agreement with your employer that stipulated a specific amount of time that your employment would continue and your employer violated the terms of that agreement, you would likely have grounds for a wrongful termination case.
  • Discrimination. Employers may not base hiring and firing decisions on an applicant’s or employee’s race, skin color, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected personal characteristics. Doing so qualifies as discrimination and can not only qualify as grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit but also lead to substantial penalties against the employer from the California Department of Labor and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission of the United States.
  • Retaliation claims. An employer may not fire an employee for engaging in a protected action, such as testifying as a witness in a case against the employer, acting as a whistleblower and reporting illegal activity to an appropriate oversight agency, or filing for workers’ compensation benefits. Any adverse action against an employee who engages in a protected act solely in response to the employee engaging in that protected act would be grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  • Exercise of legal rights. Employees have the right to engage in various protected actions, including the free exercise of their legal rights. For example, an employee who engages in political activism during their personal free time and never engages in any related activities in the workplace has the right to do so. If an employer were to fire that employee simply out of dislike of the employee’s politics, this would qualify as an incidence of wrongful termination. If the employee did any activism while acting as a representative of the company, the employer would likely have the right to fire the employee legally, especially if the employee code of conduct stipulated against such actions.

These are some of the most common examples of wrongful termination cases seen in California. If you believe your situation aligns with one of these examples, it’s essential to work with an experienced Los Angeles wrongful termination attorney as soon as possible to determine your eligibility to claim damages through a lawsuit against your former employer.

When to Call an Attorney About a Wrongful Termination Claim in California?

It’s likely that if you face a wrongful termination from your place of work, you will notice some warning signs leading up to your firing. If you are still at your current place of employment and can save any evidence of workplace harassment, workplace discrimination, illegal activity, or violations of public policies, this evidence could become crucially important to future legal action.

If you believe you have lost your job unjustly and have evidence to prove it, a Los Angeles employment law attorney can be a fantastic asset. Contact the Law Office of Omid Nosrati today online or call us at (310) 235-3904 to schedule a consultation about your wrongful termination claim at our Los Angeles office.

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