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What is considered wrongful termination in California?

On Behalf of | Apr 9, 2024 | Employment Law

California is an at-will employment state, which means that employers don’t have to give employees a reason to terminate them. Despite this, it’s critical to understand that employers can’t terminate someone based on certain reasons.

In California, it’s illegal to terminate employees because they belong to a protected class or participate in a protected activity. Any employee who believes they’ve been wrongfully terminated may take legal action.

What can’t employers fire someone for?

California doesn’t allow terminations based on discrimination, including the employee’s race, age, gender, sexual orientation, age or disability. Employees who participate in an investigation into these matters are also protected from wrongful termination.

There are also protections against termination because of participation in protected activities, such as filing a complaint about harassment. Serving on a jury and taking time off to vote are also protected activities in California.

Some employees have employment contracts that list specific requirements for termination. Those individuals can’t be terminated for any reason outside of the scope of the termination clause of the contract.

When can an employee be terminated?

It’s important to note that even if an employee participates in a protected activity or is a member of a protected class, they can still be terminated if the employer has just cause. This means that employees must still follow all company policies and meet all performance standards required.

Wrongful termination claims can become complex. It may behoove anyone who’s wrongfully terminated to have someone on their side who can help them build their case. This is especially important if there are any circumstances that might suggest there was an illegal aspect to the termination.