While you may be employed at will in California, your employer is still bound by some restrictions. No matter what an employer may think, firing an employee for certain reasons is illegal, and that amounts to “wrongful” termination.
As the victim, you need to take action and protect your legal rights. The better you understand the basics of wrongful termination, the clearer your path may seem.
What is wrongful termination?
Wrongful termination is, generally speaking, any situation where an employee is fired in defiance of a contract, due to their inclusion in a protected group or after exercising some legal right.
For example, if your employer dismissed you as retaliation for engaging in protected activities such as filing a workers’ compensation claim or reporting harassment at work, your termination is unlawful. Equally, if you were let go because of your race, color, religion, or sexual orientation, that is a form of discrimination that’s illegal.
Similarly, if your contract stated that you couldn’t be fired without “just cause” and your employer didn’t articulate a clear reason for your dismissal, that can also be a wrongful termination.
What are your options?
If you believe that your employer’s reasons for firing you are discriminatory or illegal, you may need to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and explore other legal options, such as a civil lawsuit.
If you prove that your employer terminated you illegally, they may be ordered to reinstate you to your former job. Additionally, they may also be forced to compensate you for the wages or benefits you missed while you were away from work or any emotional distress you suffered as a result of the unlawful termination.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to navigate this situation alone. Experienced guidance can help you figure out the best steps for your personal situation.