Have You Been a Victim of Unlawful Termination?
In California, there is a presumption that employment relationships are “at will”. At will employment means that the employer may terminate the employment relationship for any reason, with or without cause and likewise the employee may quit at any time and for any reason. There are important exceptions for example when there is a discriminatory motive, or the employee is being retaliated against after objecting to or complaining about legally protected conduct.
Although not common, if the employee has an express or implied contract that requires “good cause” before the employee can be fired there could be a basis for a suit against the employer for wrongful termination.
Sometimes an employee is forced to quit because the conditions are intolerable (again due to some discriminatory or retaliatory reason). This maybe be considered “constructive wrongful termination.” The law requires conditions or treatment to be so severe that a reasonable person could not consider continuing to work in the environment any further.
Potential ILLEGAL reasons an employee can be terminated for:
This means that an employer can terminate/layoff/fire you at any time and for any reason, and you can at any time and for any reason. However, there are numerous important exceptions to this rule. For example, you may have an express or implied contract that requires that you can only be terminated for good cause. Or the real reason you are being terminated is due to some discriminatory or retaliatory motive. Or, an employer may be simply trying to do away with you because you have a disability or are pregnant or need time off for treatment due to a personal serious medical condition or that of a spouse, child or parent.
Do I still have any rights against my employer?
If you can show that your employer created working conditions which were so intolerable that a reasonable employee would resign under your circumstances and those conditions were created by your employer due to a discriminatory motive (like gender, race, age, sexual orientation, disability, ethnic origin, religion etc.), a judge or jury could find that you were constructively terminated.
complained about or objected to conduct/activities which I feel were wrong.
Do I have any rights?
Yes, there are numerous California and Federal laws that prohibit an employer from retaliating against you. If you have asserted lawful rights or acted as a whistleblower against wrongdoing at work, you engaged in a protected activity. For example, you complained that you were being discriminated against or sexually harassed and your employer takes adverse action against you (e.g. a demotion, layoff, termination). An inference of retaliation may be created under California or Federal law. Employees can also be the victims of sexual harassment, physical intimidation, poor job reviews, wrongful termination, and other acts.
to get treatment for a medical or psychiatric condition or because I was pregnant?
Do I have any rights?
Yes, in many cases, you would and it would have been wrong for the employer to terminate you. If you needed a leave for a definite duration and the employer cannot show it was an undue hardship, your leave should have been honored. Moreover, there are several State and Federal laws that may require the employer to provide you with leave time if you meet certain requirements under the Family Leave Act, California Family Rights Act, Pregnancy Disability Law, etc.
If the claim is based on a contract, then contract damages typically apply (like lost wages and benefits as well as interest and court costs). For other kinds of wrongful termination cases, the basic rule is that any damages you suffered are recoverable. This can be as simple as lost wages and benefits, but it could also include damages for emotional distress and even physical injuries. It can be even broader than that. As a result of your termination, you may have lost your home, your car or damaged your credit. If it can be shown your damages were caused by your termination, they could be recoverable. Also, in some cases the court will award punitive damages, attorneys fees, and even order job reinstatement.