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How to File a Claim For Wrongful Termination?

Wrongful Termination Law in California

The “at-will” approach only goes to show that when it comes to employment, nothing is guaranteed. Unless an employee’s contract with his or her employer states that he or she can only be fired for good cause, he or she is considered as an “at-will” employee, or someone who can be terminated at any time and for any (or for no) reason. This approach applies in most workplaces in California where, unfortunately, cases of wrongful termination are quite common.

This adverse employment action is based on reasons that are considered illegal or go against what are considered exceptions to the “at-will” rule. Indeed, terminating them for discriminatory reasons or for exercising a certain right could be valid grounds for the employee to bring a claim of wrongful termination against his or her employer.

Every state’s wrongful termination law is different, but they generally serve as valid grounds for wrongfully terminated employees to exercise their legal rights against their employers. Below is a list of some of the exceptions, with respect to federal and California laws, which would be their basis for bringing wrongful termination claims:

(1) Termination as a form of discrimination or retaliation

Both the federal and California laws prohibit employers from terminating employees on the basis of protected characteristics such as age, national origin, religion, color, race, disability, genetic information, or citizenship status. The federal laws include, among others, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

Most of the laws apply for employers with at least 15 employees, but the ADEA covers employers with 20 employees or more, as well as the INA covering employers with more than 3 and fewer than 15 employees. Meanwhile, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the state statute that also protects employees from wrongful termination on the basis of protected characteristics. Aside from national origin, sex, race, color, religion, age, and genetic information, it also protects individuals from the adverse employment action based on their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, medical condition, and marital status, among others.

The laws under the FEHA apply for employers with at least 5 employees. Both federal and California laws also prohibited employers from terminating employees in retaliation for doing what is considered a workplace right. Indeed, any employee who was terminated for complaining about a discriminatory action by his or her employer or for participating in an investigation for someone else’s complaint of discrimination can bring a claim of wrongful termination claim against his or her employer.

(2) Termination that go against the provisions of an employment contract

An employee who has an employment contract may or may not be deemed as an “at-will” employee. For instance, if the employee agrees that he or she is only terminated only for good cause, then he or she cannot be terminated “at-will.” Otherwise, the employee may claim wrongful termination because the action was obviously a breach of contract.

Bringing up a claim of wrongful termination is never easy. Obviously, you need to collect important evidence to further strengthen your claim. But then, you should always consider that your erring employer simply has enough resources to shrug your claim off. This is where the expertise of Los Angeles wrongful termination lawyers becomes significant on your part. You need to have someone who can level the playing field, equipping you with the necessary legal experience to go up against your employer. To begin with, your legal counsel will help sort through the facts of your claim and evaluate whether or not you do have a valid claim that you were wrongfully discharged from work. Whether you have been a victim of constructive discharge—quit your job because of a hostile or abusive working environment—or have been a victim of wrongful termination in violation of public policy, you must speak with a topnotch constructive discharge attorney or the best violation of public policy lawyer from a Los Angeles employment law firm. That way, you can be aware of your options and what to expect with regards to protecting your rights against the employer who wrongfully terminated you.

(3) Termination in violation of public policy

A wrongful termination claim can be brought up if the reason for firing an employee is based on reasons that violate public policy. That is, an employee cannot be fired for exercising a certain right that is substantial and well-established and is widely based on a constitutional or statutory provision.

This means that an employer cannot fire someone who refuses to engage in activities that violate the prevailing federal and state laws. For instance, he or she cannot be fired if he or she refuses to commit fraud or perjury at the behest of his or her employer.

The same can be said for someone who exercises a protected activity. Indeed, he or she cannot be terminated just because he or she filed for workers’ compensation, took the time off to serve as a jury member or exercise the right to vote, or to use leaves to take care of a health- or family-related matter.

As an employee in Los Angeles, California, it is important that you are aware of your rights if you think you have been wrongfully discharged from your employment. In this regard, it would be best for you to speak with reputable attorneys for wrongful termination claims.

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