Wrongful Termination – Were You Fired?
California is an at-will state. This means an employee who does not have an employment contract stating otherwise may be fired with or without cause at any time. Similarly, an employee may resign with or without cause at any time. However, when an employee is fired, terminated or laid off there are often reasons which cause the termination which are illegal and the employee has rights. This may also be the case when an employee is forced to quit.
There are many common scenarios that are used to guise the real termination reason. Wrongful termination can happen in many ways. Some examples include:
- An otherwise good employee reports an on the job accident to seek medical attention or make a workers’ compensation claim and is subsequently fired.
- An older employee is asked to train his or her replacement and soon there after the company conveniently starts nit picking at the older employee’s performance as a pretext to firing him or her.
- An employee returns from pregnancy leave to learn her job was “eliminated.”
- An employee reports harassment or discrimination and is subsequently fired.
- An employee seeks an accommodation due to a disability or injury and is soon thereafter terminated.
- An employee refuses to work on the Sabbath for religious reasons and is fired.
These are just a few examples. Generally an employer cannot terminate an employee for complaining or reporting illegal conduct, harassment, or discrimination. An employee may not typically be fired due to a protected characteristic, such as age, gender, religion, national origin, pregnancy, sexual preference, disability or sexual identity. An employee cannot be fired or retaliated against for reporting dangerous conditions, patient care issues, and immoral conduct. Employers are sophisticated and often hide their wrongful termination by creating reports, PIPs, and evaluations supporting a downturn in employee performance. Other times employers make the employment environment so unbearable that the employee is forced to quit. This too is a termination; it is called constructive discharge.
At Bitton & Associates we understand that wrongful termination cases involve a deep dive into the facts surrounding the termination, retaliation, or constructive discharge. Employees have rights and we fight for those rights to seek reinstatement, back pay, future pay (for the reasonable time it should take to find a new job), reimbursement of expenses, unpaid wages, unpaid bonuses, unused vacation, emotional distress damages and other damages the employee sustains.