Being fired from a job is never an enjoyable process. However, it is not always a legal one either. If you have been fired, it is important to understand the legal rights you have as an employee as well as the laws which regulate what one can and cannot be fired for.
Most employment is known as “at will” employment, which means an employee may be fired at any time and for any reason or for no reason at all. However, there are exceptions to the “at will” rule which may offer legal remedies for those who have been wrongfully terminated.
Employees who have a written contract that promises job security would not qualify as “at will” employees. Contracts generally state the reasons for cause to terminate employment. Thus, if you are fired for a reason not covered by the contract, you may have legal grounds for enforcing the contract’s promises in court.
“At will” workers who do not have a contract can still be wrongfully terminated. One example would be an employer breaching the duty of good faith and fair dealing. Examples include firing or transferring employees to prevent them from collecting sales commissions, misleading employees about their chances for promotions or wage increases or implementing tactics to coerce the employee into quitting without collecting severance pay or other benefits that would normally be due.
Wrongful termination based on a violation of public policy is another area to consider. Examples include taking time off of work to serve on a jury, vote, serving as a volunteer firefighter, or serving in the armed forces. Whistle-blowing also falls under the area of public policy.
Discrimination is another key area to address. It is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for reasons of race, national origin, gender, religion, age, or disability.
California is an “at will” employment state, meaning that employees are offered and provided employment by an employer at the will of both parties. Thus, an employer or employee can end the employment at any time. However, some California employers offer both written, verbal, and implied contracts, which can carry legal ramifications.
Whether you are a contracted or “at will” employee, you have legal rights if wrongfully terminated. If you feel your recent termination was illegal, it is important to seek the expert legal advice. With years of experience in employment law, the Gilleon Law Firm of San Diego fully investigates the working environment and circumstances surrounding all wrongful termination claims, while also providing decisive counsel on the client’s legal options. Call today for a consultation.