When Is Termination Wrongful Or Retaliatory?
Employment in California is generally “at will,” meaning that employers can let employees go without cause.
California employers fire employees for all kinds of reasons — many of them legal, even if a firing seems “unfair.” Examples of legal reasons for terminating employees are business downsizing, strategic business maneuvers and “poor chemistry” among workers.
If you have questions about your specific situation, please call GrahamHollis APC at 866-568-4521 or contact us by email. We can assess your situation and determine whether your firing was legal under current state and federal employment laws.
Our lawyers have recovered more than $200 million for California workers faced with a wide variety of employment law matters. We want to help you, too. We advise and represent employees in San Diego and throughout California.
The fact that your employer terminated your employment does not, in itself, mean the company broke the law. But there are multiple situations in which termination is illegal.
In California, employees are afforded strong protections against employment law violations. Depending on your circumstances, you may have grounds for a legal claim on the basis of the following:
- State and federal anti-discrimination laws, including the California Fair Pay Act, which specifically addresses pay violations based on discrimination
- Laws banning sexual harassment in the workplace
- State and federal laws allowing for specified family and medical-related time off, including the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) and the California New Parent Leave Act (Parental Leave)
- State and federal wage and hour laws
Illegal Reasons For Firing
The law does not allow an employer to fire someone on the basis of that person’s:
- Race or color
- National origin or ancestry
- Sex, including pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding
- Age (40 or older)
- Veteran status
- Marital status
If you were mistreated on the job or experienced financial losses due to violations of an employment law, you may have cause to take legal action. First, you may be required to file a complaint with your employer. Next, you may need to complain to a government agency. Retaliation by your employer may occur — and it is likely illegal.
Did Your Employer Retaliate Against You?
Retaliatory discharge often involves firing an employee because of that employee’s legal action, such as:
- Reporting illegal workplace activities to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or other regulatory agencies, such as the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- Lawful use of family or medical leave
Note: We handle many employment claims that are covered under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which offers much stronger protections than the EEOC. For example, you have three years to bring a claim under FEHA, whereas EEOC claims must be brought within 30 days. We can help you decide which type of claim is best for your specific case, but it is important to seek legal counsel as soon as possible.
If you were the target of retaliatory discharge, your employer may be held accountable for exploitation, discrimination or wrongful termination. A successful legal claim against the employer could have a number of positive results:
- Your company may have to reimburse you for back pay and compensate you above and beyond lost pay.
- Your employer may be required to reinstate you to your job.
- Your employer may have to pay fines to the state or federal government and comply with other court orders.
At GrahamHollis APC, we are well prepared to guide you through all necessary steps to ensure that your rights as an employee are protected — during the hiring process, during your employment and in the event of your termination. We are here to listen to you, advise you and take action on your behalf. We can represent you in administrative hearings or in court before a judge until justice is served.