Generally speaking, California is an “at-will” employment state. This means that both employers and employees can end their business relationships with each other when they please.
There are several situations, however, that constitute wrongful termination. Even though employers have some broad latitude, they still cannot fire an employee for certain reasons.
Situations that constitute wrongful termination
Essentially, an employer can legally end someone’s employment for almost any reason — unless it has to do with:
- The employee’s participation in a protected activity, such as reporting or cooperating with an investigation relating to harassment, discrimination or a company breaking the law. In those cases, the termination is considered retaliatory
- The employee’s protected status, such as a disability, race, age gender, sexual identity, religion or similar points. These protections are provided by state and federal laws.
- The termination breaks an employment contract. Of course, the employee can still face termination if they violate company policy or any laws, even if they have a contract. Read your contract thoroughly to ensure that you understand the terms that are set forth in it.
- It’s a constructive termination. These involve an employer making the workplace or work requirements so difficult that there’s no choice but for the employee to quit their position.
Wrongful termination isn’t ever acceptable. Workers who have been wrongfully terminated can take legal action against the company that let them go. Working with an attorney who’s familiar with this area of law is beneficial since the lawyer can guide you through the process and explain your options. You don’t have to fight this situation on your own.