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The loss of a job can be one of the hardest situations for an employee and their family to deal with. Uncertainty about why a termination occurred and whether it was even legal can lead to a number of questions.
In California it is illegal to terminate someone if the termination is discriminatory in nature. What this means can vary in each case, but essentially the termination cannot be based on race,
The vast majority of employees in California are considered “at will” employees. This means that someone can be terminated at any time for any reason, as long as the termination is not discriminatory in nature. However, when an employee is wrongfully terminated or constructively discharged from their job based on discriminatory reasons, an employer can be held liable in a civil action. This is where an experienced employment attorney can help with a termination.
Examples of Wrongful Terminations in California
The following are specific examples of wrongful termination cases in California:
- Termination after complaining about sexual harassment
- Termination based on gender
- Termination based on age
- Termination based on ethnicity
- Termination for complaining about a workplace safety issue or other violation of law
- Termination for discussing pay with other employees
- Termination for filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Termination for voting, serving on a jury or taking time off to serve in the military or National Guard
- Termination due to pregnancy
- Termination due to disability
- Termination in violation of a contract
- Termination for exercising rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or for protected activities such as political speech
Employees should understand that “harassment” does not mean that you are not treated nicely or that your boss is mean. Typically, the term “harassment” and/or hostile work environment relates to sexual harassment or an environment where you are being discriminated against.
What is a Constructive Discharge?
California has strong laws against retaliatory discharge or whistleblower retaliation. If an employee exercises their rights under state or federal law, complains internally about a violation, or reports the employer to an entity due to illegal actions of the employer, the employee is protected from any type of termination. When an employer knows this and then makes working conditions so intolerable that an employee is forced to quit, a claim for constructive discharge can possibly be pursued.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Wrongful Termination Case?
Employees can recover several types of damages under California law when they are wrongfully terminated. This includes lost wages, lost benefits, back pay, damages for emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life and even punitive damages depending on whether actions were willful, fraudulent, malicious or oppressive in nature. In many cases and employee can also recover attorney’s fees and costs from the employer.
Get Help From a San Diego Wrongful Termination Lawyer
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your job in California, contact a lawyer from Rist Law Office to discuss your case. We handle all wrongful termination cases on a contingency fee basis, so there is no fee unless we win. All consultations are confidential and there is no charge to discuss a case with a potential client.
For more information or to speak to a lawyer, call us at (619) 377-4660.
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