California is an at-will state, which means employees can be fired at any
time without reason. However, there are still situations where an employee
can take legal action against their former employer for wrongful termination.
Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employees are protected
from being wrongfully fired by their employers. In this blog, we explain
wrongful termination laws in the state of California.
Employers in California cant’ legally fire an employee for reasons
that are discriminatory. A person's age, race, sexual orientation,
disability, national origin, or sex cannot be the basis for an employee’s termination.
An employee can file a wrongful termination lawsuit against an employer
who fires them after entering into an implied contract. If an employee
has an implied contract stating they can’t be fired for at least
a year, but their employer fires them sooner, the employee can take legal
action. The following are examples of implied contracts:
- Promises of job security
- Any employee handbook
- Employment policies
- Job performance evaluations
Violation of Public Policy
Employers cannot fire an employee for reasons that are contrary to public
policy. This means an employer can’t fire an employee for not carrying
out an illegal request or for filing a works compensation or labor violation claim.
It is illegal for an employer in California to fire a worker for reporting
illegal or unethical activities to the appropriate government agency or
to a person in a position of authority within the employee's organization.
Employers also can’t fire employees for supporting a coworker's
claim or reports of illegal or unethical activity within the company.
Although retaliation is often thought of as just a person getting fired,
it can actually include being passed over for a promotion or a new training
opportunity, as well as being demoted or being denied a raise. Being denied
work privileges or facing suspension or other consequences can also be
considered a form of employer retaliation.
Employees who report illegal activities within a company, such as violations
of state / federal law or noncompliance of safety regulations, are considered
whistleblowers. California has laws that protect whistleblowers from
employer retaliation, as well as employees who fuse to participate in activities that would
violate federal or state statutes. Employers who choose to retaliate against
whistleblowers can be forced to pay for lost wages and also might have
to reinstate their employees’ jobs and benefits.
The Sarbanes-Oxley Act protects whistleblowers employed by publicly traded
companies from the following types of retaliation:
Provisions in the Sarbanes-Oxley Act protect employees who report activities
that they reasonably believe to be illegal, even if courts later find
that no laws were actually broken. Employees who file a claim under Sarbanes-Oxley
have to also file a complaint with the Department of Labor within 90 days
of being retaliated against by their employer. Failure to file a complaint
with the Department of Labor can cause your case to be dismissed.
Do you think you were wrongfully terminated from your job? Our skilled
Hollister employment law attorney can help you uphold your rights and
hold your employer accountable for their actions. We can review your case
and create a legal strategy that will show how you were wronged by your employer.
Call (888) 796-4010 to schedule your free case consultation today.