As a general rule, California employers and employees may lawfully terminate the employment relationship at any time for any reason. Put another way, employees who work “at will” may be fired for any reason–or no reason at all–that the employer specifies. But the at-will rule is not absolute. There are specific circumstances in which a termination may be unlawful, which entitles the employee to pursue damages for wrongful behavior against their former employer.
The Oakland unlawful termination lawyers at Minnis & Smallets, LLP, assist employees in these types of cases. Our approach focuses on reaching a resolution that meets our clients’ needs. If necessary, we are prepared to fight for our clients’ rights and interests in court.
Once again, it is important to emphasize that California is an at-will employment state. This means the burden is on the fired employee to prove the termination was unlawful. Here are three of the more common causes of unlawful termination complaints:
California employment discrimination law recognizes certain protected characteristics. It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee based on such a characteristic, which includes but is not limited to:
Federal law covers many of these categories, as well. However, federal law typically requires a private business to have at least 15 or 20 employees, depending on the circumstances, before a fired worker has the right to bring an unlawful termination claim. In contrast, California anti-discrimination laws generally cover businesses with as few as five employees.
An Oakland employer cannot fire an employee for exercising a legal right. Retaliation often relates back to discrimination. For example, if an employee files a sexual discrimination complaint against her supervisor, it would be unlawful for the employer to fire that employee in retaliation.
But there are other legal rights that may trigger a retaliation claim, such as:
Most employees work without a formal contract. If there is a formal agreement in place, either oral or written, then that agreement may restrict the employer’s ability to terminate the employee without cause or may provide certain benefits the employee is entitled to in the event of a termination without cause.
If you need advice or assistance regarding a potential unlawful termination matter, contact Minnis & Smallets, LLP, today.