If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you should consider speaking with an experienced employment law attorney who can help you exercise your rights to recover damages. If you can successfully prove that your employer wrongfully terminated you, you may be able to recover damages for your financial loss, future financial losses, punitive damages, and suffering. The labor and employment law attorneys at Kingsley & Kingsley are well-versed in representing employees throughout California who have been unlawfully terminated.
In California, most employment relationships are “at will.” At will employment means that the employer and/or employee may terminate the employment relationship for any reason, with or without cause. However, one exception includes when some unlawful motivation or retaliatory reason for the termination occurs.
Under the law, an employer may not fire an employee based on:
- Race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion, or some other protected classification
- Requesting an accommodation
- Taking time off for maternity/pregnancy leave
- Serving jury duty
- Opposing to conduct unlawful activity
- Demanding overtime, rest breaks or lunch breaks
- Taking family and/or medical leave
- Refusing to enter an unsafe workplace
- Taking time to vote
- Marital or family status
- Refusing to sign an unlawful non-compete clause
What other conditions could exist that constitute wrongful termination?
If an employment contract has a specified term (number of years, etc.) or certain conditions that are to be met and that contract is breached, e.g., the person is fired before the specified term or the conditions are not met, this, too, may give rise to a claim of wrongful termination.
Employees may also have an implied contract with their employer that could prevent the employer from firing the employee without just cause. These implied contracts may be informal and it is up to the court to determine if such a condition existed. The court bases this decision on a variety of factors including performance evaluations, promises of job security,and the employer’s policies or employee handbook.
Constructive Wrongful Termination
Another form of wrongful termination is called “constructive wrongful termination.” This is when the employee is not fired, but quits because the conditions are so horrible that he or she is effectively forced out or left with no option. The law states that if conditions or treatment is so severe that a reasonable person could not continue working in the environment any longer, then a person may quit and seek damages for their lost wages.
Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy
Finally, in California, employees cannot be fired when the termination is based on a reason that is contrary to public policy. Wrongful termination in violation of public policy is originated as non-statutory, common law tort type of claim that limits California “at will” employment presumption. There are three main reasons for termination that constitute violations of public policy:
- Refusing to violate a law: if an employer tells you to do something which you know to be against the law, and you refuse, you cannot be fired for refusing to break the law.
- Performing a legal obligation: if you are legally required to do something, your employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline you for obeying the law.
- Exercising a legal or constitutional right: if you have a legal right to engage in a certain type of activity (political association, free speech, etc.) your employer may not terminate or otherwise discipline you for engaging in that activity.
Have you been a victim of wrongful termination?
Issues regarding wrongful termination are often highly complex and many specific facts may come into play. If you feel you have been a victim of wrongful termination, you can rely on the California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley to evaluate your claim and provide alternative courses of action. Kingsley & Kingsley’s employment lawyers have considerable experience in this area of employment law, and have filed countless claims against employers for wrongful termination, discrimination and harassment. Take advantage of a free initial consultation to discuss your specific case by calling the toll free number (888) 500-8469 or clicking here to contact us regarding your case.