In most states, including California, employment is at will. It means you may leave your job anytime you like for any reason. It also means that your employer can terminate you at any time, with or without cause.
However, at-will employment does not give employers free rein to terminate personnel in violation of state or federal employment laws. If you were recently fired and believe it was an act of retaliation or otherwise wrongful, seeking more information is wise.
What are the grounds for a wrongful termination claim?
Wrongful termination happens when employers fire or lay off workers illegally. Five common grounds for a wrongful termination claim include the following:
- Fired or laid off in retaliation for complaining about discrimination or sexual harassment
- Fired or laid off as an act of discrimination (gender, age, religion, etc.)
- Fired or laid off in violation of a written or oral employment contract
- Fired or laid off in retaliation for a workers’ compensation claim
- Fired or laid off in retaliation for whistleblower activities
You can also seek a wrongful termination remedy if your boss fired you for reporting safety violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Can you obtain compensation?
Employers that wrongfully discharge an employee often face orders to compensate the employee for wages lost because of the termination. Other possible penalties:
- Reinstating your employment
- Deleting unfavorable (related) reports from your file
- Posting a notice of the incident and the penalties for other employees
You have little to lose by holding your employer accountable for their wrongdoing and may help others avoid similar treatment at work. Learn more about wrongful termination in California if you are considering a claim.