Many states, including California, are at-will states meaning that the employee may quit their position of employment at any time for any reason. It also means that an employer has the same right to terminate an individual’s employment at any time for any reason if it is not illegal.
When an employee is terminated illegally, it is called wrongful termination, and they can sue their employer. Proving wrongful termination can be difficult but not impossible. Many employers who violate this law throw around the at-will terminology as it gives them the freedom to do as they wish. They hope that the wrongfully terminated employee becomes overwhelmed and gives up their right to sue.
Here’s what you need to know about wrongful termination in California.
Illegal Acts Considered Wrongful Termination
While California is considered an at-will employment state, partnering with a wrongful termination attorney can greatly improve your odds of proving wrongful termination. It can be challenging, but skilled attorneys with plenty of experience in the wrongful termination field can help you prove your case.
Wrongful termination in California is typically motivated by an illegal act. When employees are fired for discrimination or breach of contract, it may be considered wrongful termination in the state of California. If the employer is retaliating to a lawful public action taken by an employee or against whistleblower actions, it is also considered wrongful termination.
Proving Wrongful Termination
Proving wrongful termination can be a challenging process. The burden of proof lies with the wrongfully terminated employee, and the employer does not need to prove they had a legitimate reason for firing the employee. The employee must prove that they were terminated for an unlawful reason and that they suffered damages because of that process.
Documentation and eyewitness statements make the best burden of proof. Wrongful termination is often treated as an add-on claim to another violation of employment or discrimination laws. For instance, employees fired because of a medical condition will most likely sue for disability discrimination and then add the wrongful termination claim.
Each claim is different and evaluated on an individual basis. If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated in the state of California, it is best to consult with an experienced wrongful termination attorney to see if you have a case.
What to Do if You Suffer Wrongful Termination
Wrongful termination can be disastrous and cause a domino of tragic events. If you feel you’ve been wrongfully terminated, it’s best to lawfully gather as much evidence as possible to prove your case. It may be helpful to make copies of your employment contract, paycheck stubs, emails, and company policies.
You’ll also want to make notes and write things down while they are fresh in your memory. Memories can fade over time, so make notes as soon as possible and write down the names of any possible eyewitnesses. Next, you’ll want to consult with an experienced wrongful termination attorney who is well-versed on the laws of your state. A skilled wrongful termination attorney will fight for your rights and get you the compensation you need to move forward.