Wrongful Termination in California
There is no individual law in California covering wrongful termination. Instead there are a variety of state and federal statutes, as well as state and federal court decisions, that provide some protections (sometimes very limited) to at-will employees, and allow them to pursue “wrongful termination” cases under certain circumstances. Wrongful termination generally means an unfair employment discharge. However, not every unfair employment discharge constitutes wrongful termination.
Examples of wrongful termination that violate state or federal law include the following:
- Dismissal on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or even mistaken perceptions of any of these
- Retaliation for asserting a protected right, such as filing a sexual harassment complaint, taking family or medical leave, or applying for workers’ compensation benefits
- You don’t have a written employment contract, but you are a long-term employee with an implied employment contract. For example, your employer may have told you as long as you do well, you have a future with the company.
- Getting fired for reporting illegal or unethical conduct on the part of a manager or supervisor in private or public employment
In California and other states, employers can hire and fire at will. But they cannot fire people because they stood up for their rights if they were being mistreated because of discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Further, they cannot fire an employee whistleblower who reports fraud, illegal activities or safety violations to the government.