What is Wrongful Termination?
California, like most US states, is an “at-will employment” state. This means your employer has the right to terminate your position for no reason or any reason—at any time. Even if the reason is unfair or untrue, your termination is not illegal. There are a few exceptions to this:
- If discrimination is involved
- If public policy is violated
- If you had a contract
- Good faith and fair dealing
When these exceptions are violated, we’re here to make sure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to, whether that means a re-hire, severance package or a settlement.
Employers are not allowed to discriminate against employees or potential employees when hiring, firing, determining pay and fringe benefits, assigning jobs, promoting, laying off, training or any other part of your job.
Public policy refers to a law that benefits the public. The idea behind this protection is that your employer cannot try to force you to do something illegal by threatening to fire you. You cannot be fired for refusing to participate in illegal activities, reporting your employer for discriminatory, fraudulent or unsafe practices in the workplace or even for exercising one of your constitutional or statutory rights.
Breach of Contract
If you and your employer had a contract, either written or implied, ensuring your job security for a set amount of time or that you could only be fired for certain reasons, you may not be considered an “at-will employee.”
Good Faith and Fair Dealing
Since California is an at-will state, you can be fired for reasons that seem unfair or are untrue. This is not illegal and is not wrongful termination, but there are a few exceptions the law recognizes as illegal. Some examples of good faith and fair dealing breaches are:
- Not mentioning dangerous aspects of a job
- Creating reasons for firing you so an employee who makes less money can be hired or to prevent you from collecting a sales commission
- Trying to get you to quit so you don’t receive severance and being untruthful about your chances for promotion and wage increase
What can you do?
If you have been recently laid off or fired, and you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, it is important to know your rights.
Our Long Beach wrongful termination lawyer can help you determine if your claim of wrongful dismissal against your former employer is viable and assist you in taking the next steps.