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Wrongful Termination under California Law

By Edited Jan 17, 2016 0 0

There are only a few valid reasons that employers can use when terminating their employees. If the following reasons are given behind an employment termination, then that action is considered as wrongful.

  • The employee refused to do something illegal for his employer.
  • He was terminated for doing something that under California or federal law is his right to do.
  • The employee complained about something at work (i.e. discrimination).
  • The employee complained to a third party about his employer.
  • The employer’s reason just did not “feel right” nor had any basis.
  • The reason behind did not make any sense, as if it was just a “cover up” for another reason.

Under California law, wrongful termination encompasses different employment statutes. Wrongful termination means that the reason given for laying-off an employee is illegal under state (specifically the Fair Employment and Housing Act) or federal law, or is a violation of CA’s “public policy”. A Los Angeles Wrongful Termination Attorney may be able to help in understanding the laws that make wrongful termination illegal.

However, also under the CA law, it may be harder to prove the occurrence of wrongful termination. That’s because if an employee is hired under a union contract or an individual employment contract, the employment will always be presumed as “at-will”. And if an employment is made at-will, the employer can pretty much fire any employee for any reason at any time, unless of course the reason is based on discrimination and other illegal reasons.

There are ways, however, that the at-will relationship can be modified verbally or through custom or practice. With the help of these modifications, an employee may be able to avoid wrongful termination, or may show proof that a termination was wrongful.

The first way is through an employee handbook. The handbook may contain a progressive discipline policy, which may require verbal or written criticisms must be made before termination. If this is not followed, the termination is then wrongful. The verbal assurance of the employer to the employee about continued employment also amends the at-will relationship, because the employee is reasonably expecting continuing employment.

Such modifications will require the employee to establish “good cause,” or fair and honest reasons to terminate an employee. Employees in California who have reason to believe that they’ve been wrongfully terminated should get help from a Los Angeles Employment Attorney, especially since wrongful termination cases can be really difficult to deal with.

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