Bartz Law Group

Employee Rights Advocates

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in California

Wrongful Termination in California

California employers can fire at-will employees with or without a reason. However, firing an employee for unlawful reasons is considered wrongful termination. Should this situation happen, the unlawfully terminated employee can search online for a lawyer to sue the employer. Wrongful termination can leave you confused, particularly if you don’t have another source of income.

You will likely be wondering if you have a claim, where to start, and more. The good news is that you have the solution at your fingertips. Using your phone, one can search for a “lawyer to sue my employer” online.  You may be asking, when can you sue your employer for wrongful termination?

Grounds for Wrongful Termination in California

1. Termination Based on Protected Aspects

California employees are protected from harassment and discrimination at the workplace by the Fair Employment and Housing Act. The provisions of the two Acts also prohibit retaliation against workers for:

  • Opposing harassment and discrimination;
  • Whistleblowing; or
  • Testifying against the company or employer.

Workplace discrimination occurs when an employee is unfairly targeted due to their:

  • Race;
  • Skin completion or tone;
  • Sexual orientation;
  • Gender and age;
  • Religious affiliation, and more.

An employee can sue the employer if the decision to fire them was based on a protected characteristic.

2. Termination for Whistleblowing

Whistleblower terminations typically occur when an employee reports a law violation or malpractice at the workplace to a government agency or enforcement agency. In California, the Labor Code 1102.5 LC provides whistleblowers’ protection. Under this law, employers are prohibited from retaliating against whistleblowers (an employee who reports law violations and malpractices at the workplace).

3. Termination Related to Implied Contracts

An implied employment contract is neither in writing nor verbal. Instead, such contracts are based on statements or actions of the employer that imply or suggest that an employee cannot be terminated without good cause (a legally sufficient reason). An implied contract can occur in the following ways:

  • Issuing the employee a handbook that specifies when they can be fired; or
  • Guaranteeing an employee’s job safety to an employee provided they don’t violate certain rules or laws.

4. Termination for Refusing to Violate a Public Policy

Sometimes employers order employees to break the law for their selfish interests. For instance, when an employer wants to commit financial fraud, they may coerce the accountant to cook figures. If the accountant is terminated for refusing to cooperate, they can file a wrongful termination claim for failing to violate a public policy.

5. Termination for Filing an Injury Claim

Having an active workers’ compensation policy is a mandatory legal requirement for California employers. Additionally, employees are entitled to compensation for workplace-related injuries–meaning they can file a claim for injuries sustained in the course of working.

If an employee is fired for reporting a work-related injury or filing for workers’ compensation, they have grounds for bringing a wrongful termination claim against their former employer.

California employers can terminate the services of their employees with or without any reason. However, most importantly a termination should not violate the provisions of the Fair Employment and Housing Acts.