Wrongful Termination Lawyer in Los Angeles
There are many people who are terminated from their jobs every single day, and most of them feel as if their termination was wrongful and unlawful. The law has a very strict definition of what it means to be wrongfully terminated: in order to be wrongfully terminated, an employee’s termination must have been over an illegal reason which violates federal anti-discrimination laws or a contractual breach between employer and employee. In the state of California, however, the courts follow the At-Will doctrine, which states that an employee may be terminated despite the employer not having a just cause, or in the absence of an employee contract. There exist, however, exceptions to this “at-will” doctrine which follow the anti-discriminatory laws set in place to protect marginalized groups of people from terminations that are not based on poor performance.
An employee, for instance, cannot be terminated on the basis of their race, gender, religion, disability, or ethnicity — traits which are inherent to their being. It is also against the law for an employer to fire an employee simply because the employee filed a lawsuit against the employer, or because the employee pointed out and told agencies of a wrongdoing as a whistleblower. Such actions are considered unlawful and may be considered wrongful termination, which may give you the right to sue your employer for wrongful termination and get you the compensation you are entitled.
If you, an employee, have been recently laid-off or fired and believe that your termination was wrongful and unlawful, you may have the right to file a claim of wrongful termination against your ex-employer. Compensation for a successful case in which wrongful termination is proven against the former employer include monetary damages, and in the case in which you have not yet been released, a severance package that includes adequate compensation for the unlawful termination.
So what makes a termination “wrongful”?
The term “wrongful termination” is to say that the employer has terminated or laid-off an employee for a reason that is not legal in the eyes of the law. You, as an employee, must know what qualifies as “unlawful” in order for your rights not to be infringed. The following reasons for wrongful termination are listed below:
- Termination which violates the anti-discrimination laws — Discriminatory termination is one of the most known forms of wrongful termination in which an employee is fired not for performance, but instead based on something that is inherent to them, like race. Ever since the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, state and federal laws have been put into place to protect certain groups of people from discrimination of any sort. The people who are protected are women, minorities, and people with disability who have been discriminated against for much of history.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1963 does not allow employers with 15 or more employees to discriminate against and wrongfully terminate employees on the merit of race, national origin, religion, gender, disability, or ethnicity.
Employers cannot refuse to hire, discipline unfairly, fire, deny training, pass for promotion, pay unequally, or harass any one —especially those in protected groups.
Additionally, employers cannot adopt policies which tends to diminute or filter out women or minorities. Such a policy is only legal if it is deemed to be a “bona fide occupational Qualification.” (E.g., A strength test for firefighters who must be able to carry victims of all weights and sizes down tall ladder tends to see more males succeed, than women.)
So, for example, if an African-American woman has proved time and time again that she is the most qualified person for the job, and is terminated on unjust grounds, that employee may be able to file a wrongful termination suit against that employer due to racial or gender discrimination.
- Termination through sexual harassment — The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) states sexual harassment is “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” In addition, it is sexual harassment if the submission to or rejection of these advances affect an individual’s employment, or creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment.
An employer who uses their position to intimidate or coerce an employee, and then terminates that employee, whether they rejected the advancements or otherwise, may not only be found of wrongful termination, but sexual harassment as well.
- Termination in direct violation of written or oral agreements made upon employment — If the employee has signed an employment contract, the employer is contractually bound to the terms listed. Even if the employee has not officially signed the contract, the employer may still be bound by any oral agreements that were made — otherwise known as an, “implied contract.” These contracts can guarantee employees a certain job security, regular advancement, or specific termination procedures which all provide evidence that the terminated employee was not working at-will. The employer may not be able to fire an employee in violation of the employer’s guidelines if the employee handbook lists procedures for termination. Even if the employment is “at-will” the employer may have to follow their own guidelines. For example, let’s say that you signed a contract that states you will perform specific duties for a period of eight months; at the end of this period, the employer may decide to keep you on for longer or thank you for your services. If you are let go before the eight months expire, you may be able to file a wrongful termination suit against your former employer.
- Termination due to whistleblower retaliation — Employees have the right to report illegal or unethical acts that are done by the employer. This is called whistle blowing, and employees are protected against any kind of retaliation that the employer does. Some acts for which a worker cannot be terminated include informing the employer about sexual harassment going on in the workplace or any other sort of discrimination, or filing a complaint against the employer for violating safety standards, work and hour laws, or environmental regulations. In other words, an employer cannot seek revenge and punish you for alerting agencies of illegal activity. For example, an employer that fires an employee who “blew the whistle” on money laundering or other such illegal action, cannot be fired in retaliation by the employer. The whistleblower statutes protect such individuals which bring unlawful or unethical acts to light.
- Termination for rejecting to perform illegal acts — Like the whistleblower protections which shield employees from retaliation, employers cannot demand that employees perform illegal acts. If the employee refuses to perform the act, the employer cannot terminate the employee as a form of retaliation. For example, let’s say that your employer has asked you to work yet another shift, of which you are fully aware that is in breach of wage of hour laws. You then refuse to work that shift for whatever reason. If you are terminated because you did not do as your employer asked, you may be qualified to file a claim against your employer for wrongful termination.
- Termination due to protected time off — Life can be unfair. There may be events which force an employee to miss work for periods that are longer than the available hours that employee has earned via sick leave and vacation time. This may be an injury which renders an employee with the inability to perform their daily duties, or a familial matter. The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) is fully aware of this and allows eligible employees during to take unpaid leave for up to 12 weeks during a period of 12 months which allows the employee more time to recover from an injury or illness.
The law also protects members of the military who are called into duty.
In addition, the FMLA also protects those individuals who take time off to vote and fulfill their civic duty or serve on a jury. For example, let’s assume a worker was injured and broke their leg – the fractured leg renders them unable to perform their duties required by their job. Employers may not terminate the employee because of this injury because of the FMLA. If the employee is found eligible, the employer must keep the employee’s position open until they are ready to resume their work back on the field. Employers must give the employee their old job back or one that is very similar to what they were doing in order to give them the best opportunity to succeed at what they were doing before. This statute is based on if the employee can continue to perform their old duties. An employer must find a position that is suitable for the employee if they are physically unable to perform their old task.
Free Consultation and Zero Fee Guarantee
Wrongful termination is any firing or letting-go that is defined as unlawful. If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated, please contact us for legal assistance. We will review your case for free and see if we can help build a strong case against your employer and get you the compensation which you deserve.The consultation is free, and we work on contingency, so there are never any upfront fees. Our main offices are in Los Angeles, but we are active in all of California. If you would like to speak with us and get a free case review from an experienced employment lawyer who can review your case and provide you with legal advice, you can call us right now.