Employers may take retaliatory action against employees for reasons that “violate fundamental public policy.” Wrongful termination is a great example. There are a couple of reasons why an employee may be illegally terminated. Age discrimination, or workplace discrimination in general, is a very common reason for wrongful termination in California and across the country. Whistleblowers, or individuals who report illegal activities or violations conducted by their employers, are also sometimes illegally fired. Fortunately, wrongful termination is illegal, and victims may have options to pursue legal action against their former employers.
There are laws that protect employees from wrongful termination. Employers cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons, such as their gender, race or national origin. In addition, employers cannot fire employees who are reporting illegal activity or who are participating in an investigation related to illegal activity. If you signed an employment contract, then your employer must abide by the terms of the contract. Employers cannot fire you for refusing to sign an illegal contract. In cases where your employer terminates your employment in a way that violates that contract, you may have cause to pursue legal action.
I was extremely stressed out about my termination, like literally sick, but Chris was always extremely positive and upbeat, and working with him turned me right around. He’s completely empathetic with you but flips the switch against the other side.Haley
Examples of Wrongful Termination in California
Employers may terminate employees for illegal reasons under the following circumstances. Reasons for wrongful termination include:
- Whistleblowing. Employees have a legal right to report crimes or regulatory violations conducted by their employers. When employees report activities that are illegal under state or federal law, employers may retaliate by terminating the jobs of those employees.
- Discrimination. Employers may fire employees for discriminatory reasons. Age, race and gender discrimination are reasons why an employer may illegally fire employees. Reporting discrimination is another possible reason for wrongful termination.
- Participating in a lawful investigation. There may be pressure from employers to not participate in investigations, such as for harassment or other illegal activities. Employers may attempt to fire employees who participate in these investigations.
- Taking family leave. Employers may fire employees who recently welcome new members into their families. In such cases, employers may be breaking the law for firing parents who are taking leave after the birth of a child.
- Taking medical leave. Employers may break the law by firing workers who took medical leave.
These are only a few examples of when an employer may be violating state and federal laws. If an employer fires an employee for one of the reasons listed above, then the affected employee may have legal options he or she could pursue.
California Laws and Wrongful Termination
Whether an employer broke the law while terminating an employee depends on the circumstances. The following California laws may apply to wrongful termination cases:
- California Fair Employment and Housing Act. This is California’s anti-discrimination law for employees and tenants. Under this law, both parties enjoy a broad range of protections from discrimination. Employees have protection against age, racial, disability (mental and physical) and gender identity discrimination. Additional groups are also protected.
- California Family Rights Act. Employees at certain companies (businesses with 50 or more employees) must provide protected leave after a child is born or adopted. Firing an employee for taking leave after a child is born or adopted may be illegal. There are additional protections for parents under this law.
- New Parent Leave Act. This law provides additional protections for parents who need to take leave. The law applies to companies with 20 or more employees.
- California Pregnancy Disability Leave Law. If an employer is covered by a pregnancy disability leave law, then they cannot fire a worker that becomes pregnant or needs medical leave due to pregnancy.
Federal laws that protect workers from discrimination are narrower in scope. Certain individuals who are not covered under federal laws could be covered under state laws. California has one of the best legal frameworks in the country when it comes to protecting workers from discrimination.
There are also whistleblower protection laws that could apply to a wrongful termination case. We encourage you to read our page on whistleblower protections to learn more about this topic.
There are a couple of legal options you could pursue if you were illegally terminated by your employer. You could file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, the state agency responsible for handling employment law investigations and claims. In addition, you may also be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your damages.
For both options, it is important to gather as much evidence as possible. Employment law claims need strong evidence to be successful. You should speak with a California labor law attorney if you plan to pursue either option against your former employer. An attorney could help advise you through the process to give your claim the best chance of succeeding.
About Our California Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Our California wrongful termination attorney can help you determine which legal options you could pursue if your former employer illegally terminated your position. At the Law Office of Christopher Baudino, we have a commitment to helping employees affected by the illegal actions of their current or former employers.
You may reach out to California wrongful termination lawyer Christopher Baudino for a free consultation by using our online case review form.
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