Wrongful Termination

A wrongful termination action may be necessary when a worker claims he or she was fired or laid off by their employer for an illegal reason. This generally means a violation of federal or state laws, and/or public policy. The most common claims are:

  • Termination for whistle blower activities
  • Termination for exercising rights under the Fair Employment and Housing Act
  • Termination for exercising protected political activities
  • Termination for filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting a work related injury
  • Termination for exercising rights under California employee leave laws

Whistle blower Protection:

One common form of wrongful termination in violation of public policy is so-called “whistle blower” retaliation. Whistle blower termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for reporting a potential violation of law by the employer to a government or law enforcement agency.

California's main whistle blower protection law is Labor Code 1102.5 LC. This law provides that employers may not retaliate against (including by wrongfully firing) any employee who reports a suspected violation of law by the employer to a government or law enforcement agency, or to a supervisor or other employee who has the authority to investigate or correct the violation.

Wrongful discharge under the Fair Employment and Housing Act:

California's prohibits workplace harassment and employment discrimination–makes it illegal for employers to retaliate against an employee on the basis of  their race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, disability, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, or political views and who have experienced any of the following:

  • Opposed harassment or discrimination at the workplace,
  • Filed a complaint a harassment or discrimination against another with a supervisor or Human Resources, or
  • Testified or assisted in any investigation or lawsuit over harassment or discrimination.

Constructive Termination:

In California, it is possible for employees to sue their employers for wrongful termination even if they are not actually fired from a job. Constructive termination means that an employer makes working conditions so intolerable for an employee that s/he has no choice but to resign.

An employee may be able to sue for wrongful constructive termination if:

His/her employer intentionally created or knowingly permitted working conditions that were so intolerable that a reasonable employer would expect a reasonable employee to resign because of them; and the employer would not have been within his/her rights to terminate the employee outright because termination would have been against public policy.

In addition, several workplace retaliation laws–including laws against whistle blower retaliation and FEHA retaliation–prohibit employers from retaliating against employees in ways other than termination or constructive termination.  For example, a demotion, or being passed over for another job position by the employer.

Leave from work:

The following types of leave are provided for eligible employees in California:

  • Family and Medical Leave
  • New Parent Leave
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave
  • Sick Leave
  • Bereavement Leave

There are many other types of leave provided by law (ex. for jury duty).  Please contact our office to discuss your specific issues.

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