Are You a Victim of Wrongful Termination?
California is an at-will employment state, meaning the employer does not need to have a particular reason or cause for discharging an employee. However, there are many legal exceptions to “employment at will,” and, in fact, your employer may be violating employment laws by terminating you.
Attorney Chris Olsen is an experienced advocate for victims of wrongful termination, serving the greater San Diego area. If you think you may have been let go from your job for reasons that may be illegal, contact Chris Olsen to schedule a free consultation.
Wrongful Termination Lawsuits
An employee can sue his or her employer for damages, including loss of wages and even punitive damages, in specific instances. To bring a lawsuit, discharge must have been without cause, and there must have been a violation of public policy, a violation of statutory prohibitions against discrimination, or breach of an employment contract.
It is important to take quick action in the event of wrongful termination, since statute of limitations deadlines exist under California law. Depending upon the type of case, you may need to file an official claim within a year of termination.
An employer may be in violation of Federal or California statutes if an employee is terminated for reasons related to his or her race, national origin, sex, age (40+), gender, religion, marital status, disability, or medical condition. Discrimination related to sex includes issues regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and breastfeeding. Discrimination related to gender includes gender identity, expression, and sexual orientation.
An employer cannot discriminate against or terminate an employee for requesting or taking lawful family leave under the U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Eligible employees are entitled to unpaid leave in the case of their own illness or that of a family member, and for reasons related to childbirth or adoption.
Violations of Public Policy
Public policy refers to social norms intended to uphold the greater good. It can be considered wrongful termination if an employee is fired in retaliation for reporting safety violations or the illegal activity of an employer or coworker. This is sometimes called “whistle blowing.” For example, if you express concerns to your employer about potential wage and hour labor law violations, such as not being paid for working overtime hours or not receiving lawful rest breaks, your employer cannot retaliate against you with termination. It is also illegal to retaliate against an employee for filing a worker’s compensation claim or exercising his or her right to vote.
If you complain about sexual harassment in the workplace, your employer may not fire you in retaliation. Sexual harassment includes verbal remarks and jokes, unwanted touching, or inappropriate materials displayed in the workplace. You can also be legally protected if an employer terminates you because you refuse romantic or sexual advances.
Breach of Contract
In some cases, an employee may have a signed contract that outlines specific terms of employment and conditions for discharge. If the employer terminates you in violation of a contract, even an “implied contract,” you may have a reason to take legal action. Employees covered by union agreements are protected by contractual provisions that spell out the conditions for termination. Unions have an official appeals process for employees who believe they have been wrongfully terminated.
Schedule Your Free Consultation Today
If you believe you are a victim of wrongful termination, or believe you are about to be terminated for illegal reasons, contact employment law and personal injury attorney Chris Olsen to schedule your free consultation.