Wrongful termination is a popular topic when so many workers are losing their jobs, forced to look for new work and having to change careers. While many workers may feel “wronged,” the termination may not be compensable under the law. An understanding of what is a “wrongful” termination under the law is necessary to evaluate your legal options.
Under "at-will" employment laws, it is within the rights of both the employee
and employer to terminate employment at any time without cause. However, there are exceptions to these employment laws and if your termination violated one of these exceptions the termination may be “wrongful” and compensable under the law. Wrongful termination is a serious violation of California labor laws.
There are "employment-at-will" exceptions that could trigger Wrongful Termination liability.
- Public policy. This occurs when an employee is terminated against an "explicit, well established public policy of the State." For example if an employee is not being paid the lawful wage rate and is then terminated for complaining about it, that would be a Wrongful Termination. Other common examples are when an employee files a workers compensation claim and is fired for doing so, when an employee is discriminated against and fired, or when an employee refuses to break the law for the employer and is terminated. Any time a person is terminated in violation of a public policy that termination is wrongful.
- Implied contract. This occurs when an employee is terminated even though the employer and employee have an agreement or "implied-contract". This agreement does not have to be an express, written contract or document. Often an employer may represent that a worker will be employed as long as that employee performs at a certain level or capability. If this is expressed by the employer to the employee it may represent an "implied-contract", and termination in this circumstance could be wrongful.
If your employment falls into one of the situations above and you believe your termination was wrongful you may have a claim against your employer for damages suffered due to your lost employment. If that is the case we recommend that you contact an employment attorney for legal counsel and support.