Employees in California work at will, which means they can be fired at any time for any lawful reason. However, it is illegal firing an employee on the basis of discrimination or retaliation. These exclusions are valid for both, at-will and contract employees. A Westlake Village wrongful termination attorney can take a look at your circumstances and determine whether or not you have a wrongful termination case.
There are a few common unlawful reasons for firing an employee:
Discrimination – Under federal law, it is illegal firing an employee because of his or her national origin, race, religion, disability, age, pregnancy, and any other protected characteristic. Employees in California are also protected when fired due to their marital status or sexual orientation.
Hostile environment – A hostile work environment or harassment that involves protected characteristics such a race, age, and sex is illegal.
Retaliation – Employers can’t fire employees who seek to protect their legal rights under anti-discrimination laws. For instance, if an employee was fired for filing a complaint about a denied promotion, the employer may not win the retaliation lawsuit.
Lie detector test – An employer can’t fire someone who refuses to take a lie detector test.
Citizenship status – The employee’s alien status can’t be used as a basis for termination.
Public safety violations – Employees can’t be fired for refusing to engage in an illegal act, complaining about illegal practices at work, or exercising their legal rights such as maternity leave and voting.
On a contract – An employee on a contract can’t be fired without a valid reason stated in the contract. Also, some contracts may protect employees from termination.
It is perfectly legal for your employer to read your work e-mails and check your Internet usage yet some legal restrictions that may apply. For example, your boss may not record your phone call without your consent. Your medical information is also protected and social security number. When in doubt, contact an experienced attorney about your legal rights in California.
It is important that you document the circumstances that led to your termination, including things that were said, people that talked to you, and unfitting behavior by your employer or boss. Make copies of emails that contain key evidence. You can also write down details about warnings, performance reviews, salary changes, etc. Include important details such and location, and dates. This evidence is essential when proving your termination was unlawful and it didn’t involve your misconduct.
You can also request your personnel file and make sure no new documents were added to justify your termination. Other material such as brochures, orientation material, and the employee handbook may be helpful. However, you must make sure you ask your Westlake Village wrongful termination attorney first since documents intended for internal purposes only are highly confidential. You may be facing a lawsuit for disclosing this information. Although whistleblower laws may protect you, there is no way to know if your circumstances are protected, unless you ask your attorney first.