Losing your job is never easy. If you are laid off or let go due to downsizing or the company’s financial woes, chances are that you will be met with a level of compassion by your employer. Even getting fired doesn’t necessarily indicate foul play; after all, California is an at-will employment state. This means you can lose your job at any time without being offered a reason, barring certain exceptions. It may not seem fair or right, but it is legal.
There are times, though, when a termination may be illegal. Maybe you voiced a concern about the safety of your work environment, or a supervisor’s inappropriate behavior; perhaps you blew the whistle on the company, or were denied your fair rights as a member of a protected class. These types of scenarios could allow you to file a wrongful termination claim against your employer.
Was it wrongful termination?
Determining whether or not you have a wrongful termination claim can be a challenge. The following information offers some guidance about what wrongful termination actually is, and how you can protect yourself in the workspace:
- You can’t be fired for your political beliefs or your voting record. Under California law, your voting record is your business. You cannot be fired because you didn’t vote a certain way, or because your political beliefs differ from your supervisor’s or company owner’s.
- Workplace discrimination laws protect every employee. California recognizes multiple protected classes. If you are fired for being a member of a protected class, for asking for your legally-owed accommodations, or for addressing discrimination concerns with the HR Department or your boss, that is a wrongful termination. Understand, however, that protected status does not mean blanket protection. Contact us to find out more.
- Retaliatory discharge is illegal. Did you bring unseemly business practices to your employer’s attention? Were you a whistleblower to a government agency about fraudulent activity within your company? Did you refuse to work in unsafe conditions? If you were fired as a result of something along these lines, you could have a retaliatory discharge claim.
- You may be able to sue your employer even if you quit. There’s a difference between being fired and constructively discharged. When your work environment has become volatile, unsafe, or intolerable to the point that you are unable to reasonably perform your job, you may have no option but to quit if your employer refuses to correct the situation.
- Justice can take longer than you think. If you do file a claim for wrongful termination and believe it’s an open and shut case from your side, take pause. Employers don’t want to pay settlements, so they will push back against the facts and drag out negotiations and litigation if it means minimizing or eliminating their liability.
There are many reasons your employer could let you go, but not all of them are legal. If you have been terminated or were forced to resign due to impossible working conditions, you have a right to know all of the legal options available to you based on your specific circumstances. As results-oriented attorneys, we pride ourselves on preserving the dignity of employees across Southern California by pursuing claims against employers who foster toxic work environments.
For more than three decades, McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP has built a reputation as one of California’s leading law firms. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, John McNicholas and sons, Patrick and Matthew, have tried hundreds of cases to jury verdict on behalf of clients. Learn More about McNicholas & McNicholas