Losing a job is often a devastating blow to a California resident, especially when it appears not to be for any particular reason. Under these circumstances, an individual may believe that he or she was the victim of a wrongful termination, but that may not necessarily be the case. A claim based on being wrongfully fired from a job must meet certain legal requirements in order to move forward.
Like many other states, California is an “employment at will” state, which means that either the employee or the employer can terminate the working relationship without cause, except under certain circumstances, such as when an employment contract exists. The fact that a termination was unfair does not necessarily make it illegal, which is a requirement for a wrongful termination claim. Unless a legal reason exists, an employer may terminate a worker at any time.
However, employers cannot terminate an employee based on discrimination or in retaliation for reporting discrimination. Even so, some discrimination, such as age discrimination, does require the individual to meet certain qualifications before having the right to sue. A person also cannot be fired for reporting a company’s alleged illegal activity. Even if an employee quits due to an intolerably hostile work environment, he or she may still retain the right to file a claim against the company.
As is the case with any other area of law, numerous exceptions and requirements exist in employment law. Few cases are as cut and dry as the fired employee may believe. Anyone unsure or confused about whether they have a legal reason for filing a wrongful termination claim would more than likely benefit from discussing the matter with an employment law attorney.