What Laws Protect Employees in California?

California employees are covered under all of the same federal anti-discrimination laws that protect workers around the nation, including the the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). But California workers are also protected under the Unruh Civil Rights Act, the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA).

When is a Termination Wrongful?

Wrongful termination occurs when an employee fires or discharges an employee unlawfully. Wrongful termination can also happen in states that follow the employee at-will doctrine. Said doctrine gives an employer the right to fire an employee for any reason (or no reason), at any time.

The at-will doctrine contains a number of exceptions such as if an employee’s termination has caused a public policy violation. This means that the termination is beyond the boundaries set by social norms for fair employment interactions. For instance, an employee cannot be fired in most states because he refused to break the law at an employer’s request or because he took time off to vote.

Each state has established majority views for which public policy exceptions can be argued by a complaining employee. These exceptions can usually be found in a state constitution, state statutes or administrative rules.

Breach of Employment Contract

Another way that a wrongful termination claim can arise is due to the breach of an employment contract. An employment contract is most often written, but it can also be implied, with a breach occurring based on the facts and circumstances surrounding an employment agreement.

When a written contract is used to establish employment, a breach leading to wrongful termination can occur if the contract contained provisions detailing the length of employment or setting a specific term for employment. If an employee is fired in violation of these terms, it may result in a successful wrongful termination claim.

When a contract is implied, courts will analyze the behavior of the parties conduct and circumstances surrounding the agreement to determine whether (1) a legal contract existed, and (2) the contract was breached resulting in wrongful termination.

Job Discrimination or Retaliation Required in Wrongful Termination Claims

Beyond public policy violations of the employment at-will doctrine and breach of contract claims, a wrongful termination case could also arise from job discrimination or retaliation. Federal and state law prohibits discrimination in employment based on certain protected categories, including race color, national origin, sex, age, religion and disability. These laws affect all areas of the employment process including termination.

When an employee can prove that his or her termination came as a result of unlawful job discrimination, an employer could be held liable for violation of civil rights laws designed to protect workers by ensuring they are treated equally on the job.

Have You Recently Been Fired? - Contact Our Experienced Attorneys Today

When you believe you have been fired wrongfully, you’ll need a qualified attorney experienced in employment and labor law to successfully bring a claim. To get the justice you deserve, contact Solouki | Savoy, LLP to talk to an experienced lawyer. Our attorneys can get you the best results.