While an employee can be fired for many reasons, there are several reasons that are specifically prohibited by law. Most employers are careful enough to try to manufacture an acceptable reason for ending the employment relationship. This is why it is so important to consult with a wrongful termination lawyer near San Jose if you suspect that your termination might not have been for a lawful reason. Remember, the human resources department is not on your side – they exist to protect the employer from lawsuits. You need your own attorney to advise you about your legal rights.
Discrimination laws prohibit negative employment actions – including termination – based upon certain protected categories. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination in employment based upon race, color, religion, sex, and national origin discrimination. Later federal laws also prohibited termination based upon pregnancy or disability status (if the employer refuses to make “reasonable accommodations” for the employee). California employment laws go even further. Here, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee based upon gender identity or expression. Natural hairstyles (including locks, braids, cornrows, and Afros) are also protected.
An employee might also be protected from termination by contract. If you are a member of a union, there is likely an agreement in place between the union and the employer that dictates the circumstances in which a union member’s employment may be terminated. Other employees have an employment contract directly with their employer. Violations of either such agreement is a breach of contract, and the employee may sue for breach of contract in a civil case.
The law also provides protections for whistleblowers. Employees who lawfully report wrongdoing or illegal activities to the appropriate authorities can be protected from retaliation – including termination of their employment. There are, however, certain rules that must be followed in order to properly invoke your legal protections as a whistleblower.
It is important to consult with a whistleblower attorney before making any such report. An attorney will be able to help devise a comprehensive strategy for reporting the wrongdoing that fully protects your legal status as a whistleblower. The wrongdoing must be reported to the right agency. You also want to be able to document and prove these acts as thoroughly as possible. Your attorney will help you determine what evidence is needed and how to get it. Finally, you want to be prepared to make your report at the right time. If you report wrongdoing before your attorney has a chance to fully investigate and prepare your case, it might not be possible to prove that you are entitled to special legal protection as a whistleblower. If you report wrongdoing to the wrong person or agency, it might not be considered the “proper authorities,” and this too could preclude you from whistleblower protections.
At Minnis & Smallets, we fight hard to protect San Jose employees’ right to stay employed and not have the employment relationship terminated for unlawful reasons. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced wrongful termination attorneys. The sooner you have an attorney fighting on your side, the better protected your legal rights will be.