One of the greatest challenges a person may experience during their professional career is the loss of their job, especially if the separation is unexpected. Though the situation presents its own unique set of tribulations, the frustration is compounded when the employee is convinced they have been wrongfully terminated.
Proving the case for wrongful termination, especially in California, is highly problematic. It requires providing as much documentation as possible and retaining the services of a Los Angeles employment attorney.
Few people genuinely believe their termination was justified. While feelings of anger, resentment, fear or inadequacy may be high, it’s important to give a fair and honest recount of the separation.
Thorough and contemplative reflection is very important because the first step toward resolution is understanding whether you have a claim.
The Difference Between At-Will and Wrongful Termination
The good news is that if a wrongful termination case is deemed valid, employees are entitled to lost benefits, wages and more.
The bad news is that employment law is complicated. California is primarily an “at-will” state (like many others) meaning employees can be fired without notice at any time.
For the most part, in an at-will professional relationship, either the employee or the employer has the right to terminate their relationship at any time. The ending could be with or without advanced notice and for virtually any reason.
There is an inherent at-will understanding of employment relationships across the country. If your employer doesn’t provide a transparent indication it will only terminate staff if a legitimate cause exists, you are legally presumed to be working at-will.
To help ensure employers don’t abuse the at-will policy, states have fashioned certain reasons under which a person may not be terminated.
Anyone may have a legitimate wrongful termination claim if their case can prove certain circumstances existed.
The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits employers from making any job decisions, including termination, based on certain characteristics that are protected by law. These characteristics include:
- Marital status
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Medical condition
- Veteran or another military status
- Or political beliefs, among others
Anyone who can firmly establish their termination is directly correlated to their affiliation with a protected class potentially has a case for wrongful termination.
- An employer is also legally prohibited from firing an employee for trying to exercise or exercising their employment rights.
- If a woman is sexually harassed in the workplace, she is legally permitted to file a formal complaint.
- If a person is injured while responsibly performing the tasks required by their job, they are entitled to file a workers’ compensation claim.
- If a woman is pregnant, she has the legal right to request time off for family or medical leave.
These are just a few of the many examples that could cause an employer to unfairly retaliate against or target an employee.
If you lost your job as a result of exercising your employment rights or filing a complaint, you could have a legitimate claim.
Breach of Contract
Many employees today have contracts that guarantee employment for a designated period. The contract may also put limitations on the employer’s right to terminate your employment.
You may have a viable case for wrongful termination if your employer violates any terms of the agreement.
An employment contract doesn’t have to be written. If the parties are at least 18 years of age, an oral agreement is recognized as well.
How to Determine if You Were Wrongfully Terminated
Annually, hundreds of thousands of loyal employees are wrongfully terminated. If taken to court, a victory could mean being reinstated to a previous position or receiving a monetary settlement to cover expenses while actively looking for work.
Again, the obstacle is the term “at-will.” If you are not covered by a union contract, the likelihood you are an at-will employee is very high.
If your firing doesn’t appear to be a direct response to any form of negative behavior on your part or subpar performance, you may wonder if you are the victim of wrongful termination.
Consider the following questions:
- Did you recently amend an employment contract? Were you about to do so? Often, contracts of this nature contain clauses that stipulate when a person can be terminated.
- Have you noticed others being treated differently for the same infraction for which you were fired? For example, if you notice older workers are fired while younger workers are given a warning, you may have a case. The same could be said for employees of color and white employees. Gender may also play a role in this example.
- Did you recently file a complaint about discrimination, sexual harassment or a violation of public policy? If so, employers are prohibited from any retaliatory actions toward staff who file such complaints.
- Were you fired because your employer gave you false or incorrect information and you used it? This is a form of fraud. The greatest challenge to proving fraud is proving your employer committed a negligent act on purpose and with malicious intent.
- During the termination process, did your employer damage your reputation or good standing in the community? If you were libeled, you have the right to file a wrongful termination claim and possibly win a defamation suit.
If you determine you have been wrongfully terminated, the first step is to hire a reputable employment attorney in Los Angeles.
Work with a Wrongful Termination Lawyer Today
At Rubin Law, our experienced attorneys handle wrongful termination claims in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. Our firm has an established track record of outstanding service for those battling harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination.
Let’s work together to help you recover the compensation to which you are entitled.
More Locations We Help With Wrongful Termination
More Practice Areas and Useful Articles
- Sexual Harassment
- Wage and Hour
- Contract Law
- Executive/Senior Manager Employment
- Employment Law in Entertainment Industry
- Healthcare Employment
- Family Medical Leave Act
- Family Rights Act
- Center for Employee Rights
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