California law has comprehensive protections for employees that, in part, govern when and how and why an employer can legally terminate an employee. Most employees in California are “at will” employees, meaning they can leave an employer at any time and an employer can let them go at any time for any lawful reason, or no reason at all. However, employers cannot fire an employee for an unlawful reason. Unlawful reasons for dismissing an employee in California include:
- Firing an employee because of their race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, military service, or any other protected reason;
- Firing an employee because of their political affiliation or political activity;
- Firing an employee in retaliation for reporting a violation of the law;
- Firing an employee because they requested time off to which they are legally entitled.
If an employee has a contract or is covered under a union’s collective bargaining agreement, an employer’s ability to dismiss an employee may be further restricted under those agreements. If the contract or collective bargaining agreement doesn’t specify terms under which an employee may be let go, an employer can generally only fire them if the employee:
- Willfully breached a job duty;
- Habitually neglected job duties; or
- Is unable to perform job duties for some reason.
Were You Wrongfully Terminated?
You may still be wondering if you were wrongfully terminated by an employer. Some questions to ask yourself might include:
- Was I fired because I had questions about pay or overtime?
- Was I fired because of my age, religion, race, or sexual identity?
- Was I fired because I brought a worker’s compensation claim?
If you suspect that your employer had an unlawful ulterior motive for dismissing you, the experienced Sacramento employment professionals at The Ward Firm can evaluate your case to see if you have a claim for wrongful termination. Call us at 916-443-2474 to schedule a consultation, or send us an email through our contact form.