If you have been fired from your job in the state of California, it is possible that your employer’s action constituted an unlawful, wrongful termination. If you were fired illegally, you will need the advice and services of a San Francisco employment rights lawyer.

No one who works in California should have to suffer any kind of employment discrimination in the 21st century. If you work in this state for an employer with five or more employees, your employment rights are protected under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of 1959.

What constitutes wrongful termination in this state? What steps can you take if you are a wrongful termination victim? Keep reading – you are about to learn the answers to those questions and more regarding your rights as an employee in California.

What Is “At-Will” Employment?

Unless you have an employment contract, most jobs in California are “at-will,” meaning that you remain at or leave a job at your own will and that your hiring and firing is at the employer’s will. However, there are several exceptions to “at-will” employment.

Although you can be terminated from an at-will position for any legal reason or even for no reason at all, you can’t be terminated for a reason that is illegal. If you are terminated but you have a contract that ensures job security, your firing may also constitute wrongful termination.

Of course, “implied” contracts are trickier. Verbal promises are almost always unprovable, but if your employer overlooks or ignores any of the company’s own employment policies in order to terminate you, you probably have sufficient grounds for legal action.

What Reasons For Terminating At-Will Employees Are Illegal?

You cannot be fired from your job in California for a reason related to gender, race, religion, marital or family status, orientation, ethnicity, nationality, pregnancy, or disability. You may not be terminated because you asked for a reasonable disability accommodation.

Also, you may not be fired for whistleblowing, which is testifying about or reporting an employer’s illegal action or actions. Additionally in California, you can’t be terminated from an at-will position for:

1. Refusing to work on hazardous jobsites
2. Seeking workers’ compensation benefits
3. Taking time off for jury duty or for voting
4. Taking legally-protected medical, family, or pregnancy leave

What Are The Rights Of Wrongful Termination Victims?

Employment discrimination is illegal in California. If you were fired because of your gender, race, religion, marital or family status, sexual orientation, ethnicity, nationality, pregnancy, or disability, discuss your case with a San Francisco employment rights attorney.

Wrongful termination victims may seek compensation for lost wages and emotional suffering, reinstatement in the position, and even more in some cases. And every wrongful termination victim has the right to seek justice.

How Do Some Employers Defraud Their Employees?

Unfortunately, some employers actually defraud employees by tricking, cajoling, or intimidating those employees into resigning. To prove wrongful termination due to fraud, a victim and his or her employment rights attorney would have to prove:

1. The employer meant to deceive you and knowingly made a false representation.
2. You trusted the employer and believed the representation.
3. You were fired because of or in spite of your belief in the false representation.

Proving that a California employer intentionally committed fraud may not be easy. If fraud is a part of your wrongful termination claim, you and your lawyer will need to produce substantial documentation of precisely what false representations were made, when, where, and to whom.

How Will A California Employment Rights Lawyer Help You?

If you have been wrongly terminated and you do not find work fast, you could fall behind on your responsibilities and obligations – all because someone else broke the law. If you and your attorney can prove that you are a victim of wrongful termination, California law is on your side.

A good employment rights lawyer will have experience dealing with wrongful terminations. Out-of-court settlements save everyone involved a considerable amount of both time and resources, but if an employer will not offer a reasonable settlement, your lawyer may suggest going to trial.

If You Are A Wrongful Termination Victim, What Steps Will You Need To Take?

Before you take legal action against an employer for wrongful termination, you will have to take the steps listed below. Have an employment rights lawyer guide you. A misunderstanding or a mistake at the start could be used against you or even bring a halt to your legal efforts:

1. Get everything that you can in writing. If you file a wrongful termination claim that goes to trial, you and your attorney will need documentary evidence that proves your termination was unlawful.

2. Get the statements or testimony of witnesses. If you have been wrongly terminated, identify colleagues who might consider testifying or making a statement on your behalf.

3. Prior to filing any employment discrimination claim in California, you must obtain a “right to sue” authorization from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or both.

4. Do not be impatient about getting your case into a courtroom. Taking a wrongful termination case to a jury is a final resort. Let your attorney handle the case, help you obtain a right to sue authorization, and take the time to conduct out-of-court negotiations.

If an employer has wrongly terminated you, do not let trepidation or anxiety stop you from seeking justice. Employment discrimination of any kind is forbidden by California law. If you were wrongly terminated, or if you’re not sure, speak to an employment rights lawyer at once.

By: Fred Geonetta

Frederick J. Geonetta is a graduate of the University of California, Hastings College of Law. His legal practice is entirely devoted to litigation. Mr. Geonetta has spent the past 25 years in private practice representing both plaintiffs and defendants who have been harmed or wronged by the actions of others or who have been falsely accused of causing harm to others. He represents clients across the U.S. and international clients who seek U.S. legal advice or representation.