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CaliforniaEmployment LawWorker's RightsWrongful Termination

Were You Wrongfully Terminated or Fired? 4 Questions to Ask:

By Walton Law APCApril 27, 2022February 20th, 2024No Comments

Losing your job never feels good. When you do leave your post, you want to leave on your terms, but that’s not always possible. Whether it’s personality clashes or miscommunications about performance expectations, there are numerous reasons for your boss to let you go. However, because California is an at-will employment state, you don’t have much recourse unless your termination was based on an illegal reason. Then you may be able to sue your employer for damages; this is the difference between a regular firing and a wrongful termination.

Here are 4 questions to ask that can help determine whether you might be a victim of wrongful termination.

  1. Did your employer breach a contract?

If you signed an employment contract that defines the responsibilities, duties, and benefits of the employment and also contains an employment timeframe, then your employer is bound by the terms. This means that if you were let go before the time period in the contract, then you may be able to sue your employer for wrongful termination.

  1. Do you suspect that discrimination was a reason for your dismissal?

There are federal and state laws that protect California workers from workplace discrimination. You can file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and/or sue your employer for damages if you believe that you were terminated based on discrimination due to any of the following factors:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender
  • national origin
  • pregnancy
  • race
  • religion
  • sexual orientation
  1. Did your employer violate public policy?

There are certain ideals and values that employers must abide by when it comes to their employees’ rights and responsibilities. Your employer can’t fire you just for asserting your rights.

For instance, you have a right to request and take leave based on the federal Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA). While these laws do prohibit your employer from firing you because you took the leave, they don’t forbid firing while you’re on leave or after you return. Because these laws are complex and do have limitations, it’s a good idea to discuss your specific situation with an experienced attorney who can help you understand if you have a case for wrongful employment.

  1. Did you make a complaint?

Did you complain or express concern about safety conditions? Did you experience or witness sexual harassment and report it? Engage in whistleblowing? If so, this may be a reason to fire you. However, it’s illegal for your employer to do this. The same laws that protect you from employment discrimination and harassment also shield you from retaliation. It’s considered retaliation when an employer penalizes an employee for engaging in a legally protected activity.

This means that your employer can’t punish you for participating in workplace investigations or for filing harassment/discrimination complaints or whistleblowing. If you exposed workplace dangers or misdoings and were fired soon after, your employer may be liable for unlawful termination.  Keep in mind that employers may take it out on you by denying you a raise or promotion instead of outright firing you.

Discuss Your Wrongful Termination Claim with an Attorney

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated or otherwise unfairly treated at work via discrimination, harassment, or retaliation, then you need to figure out whether you have a valid claim against your employer. An experienced attorney can help with that. A Walton Law attorney is all set to hear from you. Contact us today.