Your employer doesn’t always need to provide you with a reason to terminate your employment in California. However, there are instances in which employers do break the law when firing workers.
This overview will answer some of your essential questions about this topic. For more details, it’s wise to consult with a California wrongful termination lawyer.
Can You Be Fired Without Warning In California?
California is an "at-will" employment state. This means employers can terminate employees at any time and for any reason (or even for no reason at all) as long as they aren’t discriminating against an employee or otherwise committing an illegal act by firing them.
Per California’s at-will law, employees can also quit their jobs at any time without providing an explanation regarding why they’re doing so.
What Is Considered Wrongful Termination In California?
The fact that California is an at-will state doesn’t mean employers are completely free to terminate employees for absolutely any reason. Illegal firing can still occur in California.
Reasons an employee might be illegally fired in California include:
- Discrimination: Employers cannot terminate an employee based on their race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, or any other protected characteristic. For example, if an employee reaches a certain age, this is not a valid reason for an employer to fire them.
- Retaliation: Employers cannot terminate an employee for engaging in protected activities. These may include reporting illegal activities or cooperating with investigations into such activities, filing a complaint of discrimination, etc. An employer might be guilty of an illegal firing if, for instance, an employee filed a sexual harassment claim and lost their job as a result.
- Breach of contract: Some employees have written or implied contracts indicating an employer may not fire them without cause. An employee might be illegally fired in these circumstances if, for example, their contract specified acceptable reasons for termination, but they were nevertheless fired for no reason.
What Can I Do If I Think I Was Illegally Fired in California?
You have options if you believe you’ve been a victim of wrongful termination in California. Before taking action, request a copy of your termination notice from your employer and ask why they fired you. There’s no guarantee they will provide an honest reason, but you should get their answer in writing anyway.
Next, you can:
- Gather evidence (such as emails, witness statements, performance evaluations, etc.) strengthening your claim that you were a victim of illegal firing
- Review your case with a California wrongful termination lawyer to learn more about potential legal options and ensure you have proper representation
- File a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or another relevant party
- File a civil lawsuit if the agency with whom you filed a claim provides you with a right-to-sue letter after investigating the matter
Get Help From a Wrongful Termination Lawyer
Proving wrongful termination in California can be a complex process. In these circumstances, it’s helpful to have legal assistance.
A California wrongful termination lawyer can gather evidence on your behalf, file your claim, and more. Their guidance may optimize your chances of ensuring justice is served. For more information, schedule a free consultation today.