Most California employees are employed “at-will” meaning that they can be fired at any time and for any reason with or without cause. Under certain circumstances, however, the termination is considered “wrongful” under California law. Typically, a wrongful termination exists when an employer fires an employee for an unlawful purpose and which violates public policies contained in statutes, regulations or constitutional provisions.
Examples of wrongful termination under California law include:
- Termination on the basis of race, gender, religion, age, national origin, disability, marital status, pregnancy or sexual orientation
- Termination after reporting unsafe working conditions
- Termination after reporting unlawful or illegal activity, such as the employer’s failure to provide meal or rest breaks or failure to pay overtime wages
- Termination for reporting or complaining of sexual harassment and/or discrimination
- Termination for reporting an employer’s illegal conduct, unethical or fraudulent activity to a government agency
- Termination for filing a workers’ compensation claim or for taking medical leave
- Termination for refusing to commit unlawful acts
The laws concerning wrongful termination are very complex. For example, an “independent contractor” may not sue on a claim for wrongful termination because the law requires an employer-employee relationship. Also, some employees who are not technically fired but pushed out of the workplace due to intolerable working conditions (such as sexual harassment) may have a claim for wrongful termination on the theory of constructive discharge.
Our dedicated employment lawyers can help you evaluate your case.
Contact us at 415.434.3400 or online to discuss how we can help you.