Employers are entitled to make employment decisions that employees might regard as unreasonable or unfair, but they are not entitled to terminate employees for unlawful reasons.
Some employees have job protections because they belong to a union, are employed by the government in a civil service position, or have an employment contract that limits the reasons for which their employment can be terminated. Employees who do not have such protection are considered to be employed “at will.”
An at-will employee can be fired for any reason or for no reason, but cannot be fired for an unlawful reason. Unlawful terminations occur when at-will employees are discharged for unlawful reasons, some of which are discussed below.
Employment discrimination occurs when an employer makes decisions about its employees that are based on protected characteristics. These characteristics include, for example, sex, race, age, sexual orientation, and disability. Federal and California law prohibits employers from terminating employees because of their membership in such a protected class.
Federal and California laws prohibit employers from terminating their employees for engaging in certain protected activities. Those activities include:
A San Francisco employment attorney can review the specific circumstances of a termination and advise the employee whether the evidence of retaliation might entitle the employee to a remedy.
California has a strong law that protects whistleblowers. That law is in addition to certain federal protections available to employees who are fired after reporting an employer’s misconduct.
California law protects employees who provide information about an employer’s violation of the law, or an employer’s failure to comply with government regulations, if the complaint is made to:
Examples of whistleblowing include:
The law also protects employees who cooperate with an investigation or who testify in legal proceedings that relate to the employer’s misconduct.
Employees who are fired after reporting their employer’s wrongdoing to their employer or to a government agency or law enforcement authority should consult with a San Francisco employment lawyer to determine whether they are protected by whistleblower laws.
In some cases, a firing that does not fit into the categories discussed above will be recognized as a wrongful termination because the reason for the firing violates a clear public policy. Examples of terminations that may violate public policy include:
An employment lawyer in San Francisco can help employees determine whether their termination violates a public policy.
The employment attorneys at San Francisco’s Minnis & Smallets have years of experience representing professional employees, executives, and other employees in wrongful termination cases. If you believe you were the victim of unlawful retaliation, were fired for being a whistleblower, or were discharged in violation of public policy, you can ask for legal advice by calling us at 1-415-551-0885 or by submitting our online contact form.
If you are looking for advice or representation, please contact us today using the form below and we will promptly respond to your inquiry.
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