A wrongful termination occurs when an employee is terminated from their employment for a reason that is protected by law, or when an employment contract specifically states that they would not be terminated except for “good cause” and “good cause” does not exist for the termination. California is an at-will state1.
An employee can usually terminate their employees for any reason they want. The state legislature, however, has specified certain conditions under which an employee may not be terminated, including race, medical condition, gender, religion, national origin, age, handicap, or political affiliation. If an employee is fired for one of these reasons, it is said they were terminated in violation of public policy. These types of claims are often referred to as Tameny claims.(Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield (1980) 27 Cal.App.3d 167, 172).
Additionally, employees are protected when they make complaints about working conditions or for filing legal claims, such as workers compensation claims. Employees also cannot be terminated for refusing to sign unlawful agreements. The federal government has likewise imposed some restrictions on the ability of employers to terminate their employees. For the most part, unless a state or federal law specifically prohibits termination, employers are free to fire their employees.
Employment law is a complex and complicated area. There may be administrative filing requirements or prerequisites, and there are always deadlines within which to file claims. It is imperative that you feel you have been wronged by an employer to seek competent counsel in this area. San Diego wrongful termination lawyer Donald A. Green has handled a multitude of employment-related claims before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and the California Department of Industrial Relations. If you feel you were wrongfully fired by your employer, contact the Law Offices of Donald A. Green at 800-994-2889 right away.