California, like most states, is an at-will employment state. Basically, this means that either party (employer or employee) can terminate the employment contract at any time and for any reason. However, both state and federal laws prohibit employers from dismissing employees on illegal grounds. If they do, you could sue them for wrongful termination.
To file and litigate a wrongful termination claim, however, you need evidence. You need to demonstrate that your employer’s decision to terminate the employment contract was unlawful and that you suffered damages as a result.
So how do you prove that you were wrongfully terminated?
Generally, here are three situations that qualify a dismissal as wrongful:
When there is a breach of contract – the at-will employment statute does not apply if you signed an employment contract that stipulates the employment duration as well as how and when the employer can dismiss you. In this case, both parties are bound by the provisions of the employment contract. Thus, if the employer fires you in breach of the provisions of the employment contract, then you may have a compelling wrongful termination claim against them.
When there is discrimination – California laws prohibit employers from firing employees on the basis of their age, race, gender, nationality of origin or sexual orientation. Likewise, you cannot be fired because you got pregnant. If you are fired on discriminatory grounds, you can take action against your employer.
When you exercise your legal rights – you cannot be fired for exercising your legal rights like taking time off to vote or honoring your jury duties.
Protecting your rights
If you suspect that your termination had something to do with a breach of contract, discrimination or exercising your legal rights, you deserve justice. Learning how California and federal employment laws work can help you protect your rights while suing your employer for wrongful termination.