Victim of Wrongful Termination in California?
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California generally permits “at-will employment,” which means that either the employee or the employer has the right to terminate the employment relationship at any time, although certain exceptions exist, such as for government or unionized employees, Employers cannot use this “at-will” right to fire employees for the wrong reasons. Wrongful action on the part of the employer includes:
- Terminating an employee for a discriminatory reason, including the person’s age, race, gender, national origin, sexual orientation, pregnancy or disability
- Terminating an employee in violation of that employee’s employment contract
- Terminating an employee as retaliation for reporting an OSHA violation, filing for workers’ compensation claims, or making a sexual harassment claim.
If an employer wrongfully terminates an employee for any of the above reasons, that employer may be liable to the employee for lost wages, interest, out-of-pocket expenses, attorney’s fees and punitive damages.
Proving Wrongful Termination
Because California is an at-will state, wrongful termination can be difficult to prove. To demonstrate that termination was wrongful, an employee must prove that the termination was the result of discrimination, that the termination was in violation of the employment contract or that the termination was in retaliation for some lawful action taken by the employee. Such reasons may be shown either by direct proof, such a stated discriminatory reason for firing an employee, or by the facts and circumstances surrounding the termination.
Constructive Wrongful Termination
Another form of wrongful action taken by an employer is termed “constructive termination.” This occurs when an employee is treated improperly and, as a result of severe work conditions, the employee is forced to resign and later seek damages for lost wages. To qualify for constructive wrongful termination an employee must usually report the employer’s wrongful behavior and seek all other alternative solutions before resigning.
Assistance with Your Wrongful Termination Claim
If you feel that your employer has terminated you for an unlawful reason, you should consult with a San Diego discrimination lawyer immediately. Proving wrongful termination can be difficult and may require an in-depth analysis of the facts and circumstances surrounding your termination as applicable to San Diego legal employment laws.
At Pope, Berger & Williams, LLP, we have more than 70 years combined experience in a wide variety of employment matters, including wrongful termination. We assist employees attempting to recover compensation for wrongs they have suffered, as well as employers who are attempting to improve their employment relations. For assistance with your wrongful termination claim, contact the San Diego labor employment attorneys at our firm today.