Wrongful Termination Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, California

In California and throughout the nation, employment in the absence of a contract or binding document is generally considered “at will.” This means that employees can quit their jobs for any or no reason, and in the same vein, employers can terminate employees. If this is the case, one may wonder, how come we hear of wrongful termination lawsuits by employees who have been let go?  

Indeed, even in an at-will environment, some terminations are illegal, and in that case, an employee can pursue the proper administrative and legal channels to recover for an illegal, or wrongful, termination.  

Both federal and state laws govern how employers must act to avoid claims of wrongful termination; in other words, employers must not violate laws governing how employees must be treated. Two principal allegations are often involved in wrongful termination cases – discrimination and retaliation – though there are other statutory and legal grounds that can lead to a claim as well. 

If your business is facing a wrongful termination claim in or around the Greater Los Angeles area, contact the employment law attorneys at Lerner & Weiss immediately. We will assess your situation to determine the right course of action and work collaboratively with you to resolve the issue. We also proudly serve clients throughout Woodland Hills, San Diego, Ventura County, and Santa Ana. 

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What Is Wrongful Termination? 

Wrongful termination is also known as illegal termination, which means that an employee can have a claim for wrongful termination if the act was carried out in a way that violated the law or established legal standards.  

Discrimination and retaliation have already been cited earlier as unlawful reasons for firing an employee. For instance, it is improper under both federal and state law to fire someone because you simply don’t like their religion, national origin, or sexual orientation, among many other reasons. Likewise, it is unlawful to fire someone in retaliation for their leading a labor organizing drive or for reporting a safety violation to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).  

When Is It Wrongful to Terminate an Employee? 

Let’s take an in-depth look at some reasons that can constitute a wrongful termination claim: 

DISCRIMINATION: Discrimination claims can be based on either the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 or California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. Both laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on what are called protected classes, which include but are not limited to race, color, sex, national origin, pregnancy, veteran status, age (40 and over), disability, gender identity, and sexual orientation. 

If an employee feels they have been terminated based on a protected status, they first must file a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency before they can sue their employer, and these agencies place time limits on filing the claim. For the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the time limit is 300 days from the termination. For claims filed with the California Department of Fair Housing and Employment, the threshold is one year. 

RETALIATION: Various sections of the California Labor Code protect employees from being fired in retaliation for something they did or strive to do. The protections are broad and varied. For instance, California Labor Code Section 230.7 prohibits retaliation against a parent or guardian for taking time off to appear at the student’s school when necessary. Retaliation is also prohibited against whistleblowers (see below), against those who take time off for leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), or against those who are seeking workers’ compensation, among other reasons.  

VIOLATIONS OF PUBLIC POLICY: An employer cannot terminate an employee who refuses to participate in any action or activity that violates public policy, such as “cooking the books” for the company or presenting falsehoods to government entities to gain some kind of favor for the company. This sort of action stems from the 1980 case known as Tameny v. Atlantic Richfield Co. and has come to be known as a Tameny claim.  

WRITTEN CONTRACT: If an employee has a written contract that guarantees employment and/or sets forth reasons for an early termination of the agreement, and the contract’s terms are violated by the employer, that would represent wrongful termination. 

WHISTLEBLOWERS: California Labor Code Section 1102.5 prohibits employers from retaliating against employees who blow the whistle, that is, who report suspected violations to authorities or even to a supervisor or other employee who has the authority to investigate the matter.  

Understanding Constructive Discharge 

Constructive discharge is a legal term used to describe the situation in which an employee resigns because the employer has made working conditions so intolerable that no “reasonable person” would choose to continue in the position.  

Wrongful Termination Attorneys Serving Los Angeles, California 

As you can see, employees have certain rights and protections that employers must acknowledge and honor or they can face wrongful termination or other claims.   

The employment law attorneys at Lerner & Weiss stand ready to use our knowledge, experience, and resources to help keep your business in compliance, and when need be, to defend your business against any claim. Reach out immediately if your business in the Greater Los Angeles area is facing a wrongful termination claim.