Protecting Your Rights
Wrongful employment termination in California is one in which an employer has discharged in violation of a legal right of the employee. It is not enough for the employee to simply show that he/she was treated unfairly but the person must show that the firing was “wrongful;” meaning one or more legal rights were violated. A California attorney will tell you that almost every state has adopted the legal concept of “employment at will” which means that it is presumed that the employer has the right to terminate someone with or without a reason and likewise the employee has the right to quit at any time with or without a reason.
There are a number of exceptions to the employee at will doctrine (the exceptions vary depending upon where the person worked) and those exceptions generally fall into the broad categories listed below:
• Violation of Public Policy;
• Breach of Contract;
• Breach of Implied Contract;
• Breach of Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealings;
• Discrimination based on age, race, sex, disability, religion and/or national origin, and
• Whistleblower Statute.
The severity of each of these violations can vary based on the laws broken. A California attorney at the Law Offices of Farris Ain can assess you case and let you know preliminarily which rights have been violated. Some can result in statutory penalties, while others mean that the employer must pay the wrongfully terminated employer for lost wages, expenses, and punitive damages.
Wrongful termination complaints can be filed one of two ways: with a government agency that enforces labor laws, or in a private lawsuit. If your employer’s violation is subject to a specific part of state or federal law, it’s a good idea to start with an organization like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Occupational and Safety Hazards Administration, or even your state’s labor offices. In cases in which the employer violates public or even company policy, a private lawsuit is often the only way to settle disputes.
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