Being terminated from a job can often come by a surprise, especially since California is an at-will state, meaning that employers can terminate employment for any or no reason. However, an employer cannot terminate an employee when the action violates the law. Wrongful termination can get complicated, but if you believe you were fired for an unjust cause, it’s important that you speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
At the law firm of Robert David Baker, we have been helping residents of San Jose and the greater Bay Area with employment law since 1986. With over 30 years of experience, we know what it takes to prove wrongful termination and we will do everything we can to fight for your rights. Our team understands how being fired is an emotional and stressful time, and it can be made worse when you believe you were fired unjustly, so get in touch with us today and we’ll answer your questions as efficiently as possible.
FAQs About Wrongful Termination
What is Wrongful Termination
There are several laws surrounding the rights of workers, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Equal Pay Act (EPA), Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. If an employer were to fire an employee in violation of any of these laws, they will have committed wrongful termination. Because discrimination is illegal, if an employee was fired because of their religion, for example, it would be considered wrongful termination.
What is Retaliation?
It is legal for employees to speak out against protected activities, such as violations in workplace safety, unlawful conduct, or healthcare violations. When an employee files a complaint or speaks out against unlawful conduct, they are considered “whistleblowers.” There are laws protecting whistleblowers and it is illegal for employers to take adverse action against the employee, which could include termination or even making changes to their employment conditions.
What is a Constructive Discharge?
If work conditions have become completely unbearable and are either forced to quit or continue to endure the conditions, it is considered a constructive discharge. If conditions are made unbearable through discrimination, harassment, or other negative changes, you could be a victim of wrongful termination. An employment lawyer will be able to review the specifics of your situation to determine the best course of action.
Can I Be Fired When There is an Employment Contract?
Each employment contract will have unique terms and conditions, so it will depend on your specific agreement. If the contract stated that you work for the company for five years, and they fired before that time period was over, it may be considered wrongful termination. In addition, some employers may claim that the employee somehow breached the contract, using the breach as a reason for termination. In this case, it must be proved that the employees’ actions or performance did not violate the agreement.
I Took a Leave of Absence For an Illness and Was Fired, Is That Illegal?
The federal Americans with Disabilities Act protect workers from employees who discriminate against employees with disabilities or medical conditions. The employer must also reasonably accommodate the employee as long as it does not create an undue hardship for the employer. The FMLA also protects workers from taking medical leave and requires the employer to reinstate the employee to their previous position and pay when the FMLA leave is over. These laws may protect you if you were fired during a medical leave.
How Can I Determine If I Was Wrongfully Terminated?
Because most states are at-will and can terminate employment for any reason, it can be difficult to determine if you were wrongfully terminated. However, there are some factors you can consider to help you decide if you should speak with an employment lawyer.
- Were employees of a different race, age, or sex given better treatment than you?
- Were discriminatory comments made about you or other employees in the workplace?
- Did you refuse to accept sexual advances?
- Did you file a complaint about not being paid overtime?
- Was an action that you took the reason for the termination, but other employees did the same thing and were not fired?
There are various situations that can occur in the workplace that constitute wrongful termination, making it difficult to determine if you were a victim. But there are various laws that protect employees, allowing them to work in an environment that is safe and fair for everyone.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, contact the employment lawyers at the law firm of Robert David Baker. Even if you aren’t sure whether you have a case or not, we will take the time to look closely at the specifics of your situation and we can determine together if pursuing legal action is an appropriate step. Contact us today in San Jose to schedule a consultation.