“At-Will” Employment Does Not Justify Wrongful Termination
California is an “at-will” state, meaning that the employer can fire you at any time, with or without cause. However, the at-will doctrine does not encompass wrongful termination. In other words, you cannot be fired because of a protected characteristic or for another unlawful reason.
If you have been the victim of wrongful termination, you can sue your employer for damages, including past and future lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional distress damages. If your employer’s conduct was particularly reprehensible, you may also be entitled to punitive damages. Consult an experienced wrongful termination lawyer to learn more about your rights and legal options.
Illegal Reasons for Firing Employees
Federal and state laws make it illegal to fire an employee for any of the following reasons:
- Religion or religious practices
- Sexual orientation
- Gender identity
- Pregnancy or maternity leave
- National origin
- Political affiliation
- Physical disability (FEHA or ADA)
- Mental disability
- Use of Family Medical Leave (FMLA or CFRA)
- Constructive termination
Most wrongful termination cases are based on violations of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Also common are cases in which an employer fires, demotes, harasses, or otherwise retaliates against an employee for reporting a violation of the Labor Code and other laws.
What Is Constructive Termination?
Usually an employee must be fired to bring forward a wrongful termination claim. One exception to the rule is referred to as “constructive termination.” A constructive termination occurs when an employee is forced to quit due to intolerable work conditions.
For instance, an employee faces continuous and malicious harassment based on race at the workplace. His employer is informed about the harassment but does nothing to stop it. At this point, the employee feels he has no choice but to quit or resign. It is this no-choice aspect of constructive termination that makes it equivalent to involuntary termination and thus gives rise to a wrongful termination claim.
Let Us Help You Make Things Right
Losing your job is one of the most stressful experiences a person can endure – especially when it’s unjustified. If you believe you were fired for an unlawful reason or are being retaliated against, contact the passionate wrongful termination attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm today. With 20 offices throughout California, we can come to you and help you fight to make things right. For a FREE consultation, call us now at (213) 805-8549.