California employers are legally permitted to fire their employees at any time, with or without reason (when no employment contract exists). This is due to the fact that California is an “at-will” employment state. This, however, does not mean that all firings or dismissals in California are legal.
In fact, if a termination violates an employee’s protected rights (as granted by state or federal law):
- It will constitute a wrongful termination.
- The targets of these dismissals will have legal options for holding employers accountable.
Orange County Wrongful Termination Attorney Marc Phelps works hard to protect his clients’ rights and help them fight for justice when they have been subjected to wrongful terminations. Effective at holding employers accountable, Marc is ready to discuss your situation and explain your options during a free case evaluation.
Simply call (949) 629-2533 or email our firm today to find out more about how Marc can help you pursue all available legal remedies in the aftermath of a wrongful termination.
What Is Wrongful Termination in California?
Being fired or dismissed from a job will generally be a wrongful termination if or when:
- It involves or results from discrimination – Discrimination-based wrongful terminations generally involve dismissing an employee due to his or her personal or physical characteristics.
Example: If an employer dismisses an employee because of his or her race, ethnicity, age, disability, religion, gender or state of pregnancy, this firing will constitute a discrimination-based wrongful termination.
- It violates any of an employee’s protected rights – While the law protects employees against discrimination, it also protects an employees’ rights to take medical or family leave, to serve in the military, to serve on a jury, etc. Firing employees for exercising their protected rights can qualify as a wrongful termination.
Example: Dismissing an employee for taking pregnancy leave can constitute a wrongful termination.
- It’s retaliation against an employee – State and federal law prohibits employers from firing employees who report an employer’s alleged wrongdoings. In other words, it’s illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee (by dismissing him or her) because (s)he has blown the whistle on labor law violations, unsafe working conditions, employer fraud, employer discrimination, or any other illegal actions allegedly committed by an employer.
Example: Firing an employee who has reported OSHA violations – or firing an employee who refuses to participate in an employer’s wrongdoings – can qualify as a wrongful termination.
- It violates the terms of an existing employment contract – When a dismissal breaches the terms of an existing employment contract, it can qualify as a wrongful termination.
Example: If an employment contract specifies that employee will be occupied in a certain position for given number of years, a termination prior to the contractual end date can constitute a wrongful termination.
Wrongful Terminations: What Else California Employees Should Know
- Constructive terminations (or forced resignations) – Employers firing employees is not the only way that wrongful terminations can occur in California. In some cases, employees’ resignations can also constitute wrongful terminations. This generally occurs when an employer has made working conditions so adverse or hostile that an employee is pushed or forced to resign (as any “reasonable” person would in the same situation). Subjecting employees to harassment or to adverse and intolerable working conditions are just a few ways that employers may constructively terminate employees.
- Time limits for filing a case – The deadlines for pursuing a wrongful termination claim in California vary, depending on the nature of the claim and the defendant. For instance, there are different (but very strict) deadlines for filing a wrongful termination claim at the state versus the federal level. An attorney – like Marc Phelps – can go over the facts of your case and provide you with more specific answers about filing deadlines and what you need to do to move your claim forward (so you don’t miss the applicable deadlines).
- Legal remedies – Recoveries for wrongful termination cases can include various legal remedies for employees, including (but not necessarily exclusive to) awards for:
- Past and future lost earnings and benefits
- Emotional distress
- Attorneys’ fees
- Punitive damages (These are not available or awarded in all wrongful termination cases. They tend to be an option when, for instance, employers have a history of violating employees’ rights and/or state or federal employment laws).
Contact Orange County Wrongful Termination Attorney Marc Phelps
Were you fired from your job? Do you question whether your employer violated your rights in the process?
If so, call Orange County Wrongful Termination Attorney Marc Phelps at (949) 629-2533 to learn more about your rights and options for justice. You can also email him and receive his response within 30 minutes.
When you contact Marc, you can get clear answers about your potential case and helpful advice regarding how to pursue justice following a wrongful termination. You can also secure his exceptional representation at no cost. He works on contingency because he believes his clients deserve the best representation possible, regardless of their ability to pay. This means that he only gets paid if (or when) you do.
From offices in Newport Beach, Marc provides the highest quality representation and service to people throughout Orange County and the state of California.