Don McIlroy – Archy and Mehitabel creator Don Marquis once said, “When a man tells you that he got rich through hard work, ask him: ‘Whose?” If a company has benefited from your work and then fired you, or if you have been otherwise unjustly let go, you should consult with a wrongful termination attorney. If you think you may be fired soon, you should begin amassing evidence of your employer’s abuse.
The last several years have brought an increased amount of awareness regarding hostile work environments. The crimes of Harvey Weinstein and those like him have inspired a change in the law.
Many individuals may consider the termination of their employment ‘wrongful’, but the actual legal definition of what amounts to ‘wrongful’ is specific.
Wrongful termination involves the firing of an employee for some illegal reason. Those reasons vary, they may involve the violation of a federal law relating to anti-discrimination, for instance, or they may be some breach of contract by the employee.
Similarly there can be ‘retaliation’ dismissals because an employee has shown an employer’s wrongdoing as a whistleblower.
Governor Gavin Newsom has recently changed the law in California to allow employers and employees to negotiate on an equal playing field.
California is an at-will state, which means that technically an employer can fire you for any reason at any time. However, an employer may not discriminate against you, and there are some circumstances under which your termination may be considered illegal.
In order to win a wrongful termination lawsuit, it is important to know what kinds of terminations are considered illegal and to document everything that you are saying.
The Definition of Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination is any kind of illegal termination. It may include discrimination that is due to color, race, age (over 40) religion, gender or national origin. Firing someone for having a disability or for their genetic information is also illegal.
If you complain about your employer’s illegal behavior, they are not allowed to fire you or otherwise reprimand you in retaliation against the employee as a whistleblower. It is illegal to fire someone for reasons that the public would find wrong. Hence, an employee may not be fired for exercising their right to vote, taking care of court obligations, or for reporting the company for doing something illegal.
There is also common law wrongful termination which includes terminations that violate a state’s public policy, or other termination ‘reasons’ such as terminations after an implied contract for employment has been established, and terminations in violation of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
Wrongful termination of an employment contract also includes terminations in violation of federal, state, or local anti-discrimination laws.
Consulting with a Lawyer
If you have experienced discrimination or harassment at work, you should talk to an attorney promptly to determine whether the termination is legal or not. You do not have to wait until you are actually fired to do so and having a knowledge of your employment terms is something that places any employee in a strong position in terms of knowing what their rights at law actually are.
An attorney will know what is considered illegal in the state of California and be able to advise you as to whether or not you have a case. You and your attorney may want to discuss proposing a severance package to your employer. Most employers will try to avoid court as it is costly, time-consuming, and may cause bad publicity.
Determining the Strength of Your Case
A good employment or labor law attorney will be able to determine the likelihood of winning your case based on the information you provide. If you are still employed, collect documentation of any kudos or promotions you have had while you were at work. Write down anything anyone has said to you that might be construed as discriminatory. If you feel that you have been unfairly reprimanded, be sure to save documentation of that as well.
If you have recently told people at work about a religious belief that you have, a physical or mental disability, or a pregnancy, make sure to document the approximate time and date you mentioned the information. If your termination happened after you disclosed this information, an attorney may be able to use this as evidence against your employer.
The average person spends a third of their life working. It is important to work in a place that is comfortable and fair.
A wrongful termination attorney in Los Angeles such as our firm can help you find justice in cases of wrongful termination and the money you deserve.
Rubin Law Corporation has been providing employment law advice in California since 1995, providing advice to high level executives and class action lawsuits and for wrongful termination.
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