California law narrows the basis on which an employer can terminate the employment of an employee.

Bay Area Wrongful Termination Attorney

While all states in the U.S. recognize at-will employment, each state allows specific exemptions. In other words, an employer may not terminate an employee for certain specific reasons. One of the most common prohibitions on terminating employment is discrimination. It would be unlawful for an employer to fire an employee solely because of the employee’s ethnicity, age, gender, religion, or disability status.

At-Will Employment in California

All states in the U.S. are at-will employment states. That means that either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment situation for whatever reason. However, employers are limited in terms of what basis they can use to fire an employee. So long as their employment was not terminated for illegal reasons, the employer is within their rights to fire an employee even if it is only because they are in a bad mood.

Wrongful Termination: Discrimination

No employee can be lawfully terminated on the basis of race, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, age, disability, political activities, national origin, religion, genetic information, or status as a veteran.

Wrongful Termination: Unionization

Employers may not fire employees for unionizing or attempting to unionize. This is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act.

Wrongful Termination: Retaliation

If an employee reports an employer for illegal conduct or actions that go against the public good, that employee cannot be legally fired in California.

Additionally, it is unlawful for an employer to fire an employee for filing a workers’ compensation claim.

Wrongful Termination: Leaves of Absence/Other Issues

Certain leaves of absence are protected by statute. These include:

  • Jury duty,
  • Military leave,
  • Pregnancy,
  • Serious health conditions, and
  • Participation in voting.

Proving Wrongful Termination in California

In order to successfully sue an employer for wrongful termination, you must prove that their grounds were “unjust” under California law. Discrimination, of course, is grounds for unjust termination, but there are contractual breaches that can occur, as well. In addition, there are retaliation claims and an employer may not fire an employee for refusing to commit a crime or otherwise violate public policy.

In California, the standard of proof in a wrongful termination claim is that the illegal reason was a “contributing factor” to the termination. This means that discrimination or any illegal reason does not need to be the only motivating factor, but the plaintiff must show that it was a substantial cause for the decision.

Talk to a San Francisco Wrongful Termination Attorney Today

If you have been unfairly discharged by your employer, you may be able to sue them for wrongful termination. You may be able to collect damages related to your lost wages, emotional trauma, attorney and court fees, and, in some cases, punitive damages. Contact Bogaards Law for more information.

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