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California employment law issues: What is wrongful termination?

We have discussed the many state and federal laws that employees are protected by in California on our San Diego employment law attorney blog, but these laws are also very complex and may be confusing to employees and employers alike. One employment law issue that is particularly complicated in California is wrongful termination.

If an employee is suddenly fired for no reason, does that mean that the employer broke the law? In some cases, the termination of an employee for no reason is completely legal in California.

In California, employees have the right to quit their jobs at any moment's notice. But employers also have the legal right to terminate employees at any time, even for reasons that don't make sense or for reasons that are simply not true.

What is wrongful termination?

If an employee of a San Diego firm or any other business in California is suddenly fired on the spot for no "good" reason, the employee might assume that he or she has a strong case to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. Unfortunately, it could also be a case that is easily dismissed by the court.

In California, wrongful termination does not play a role in an employee's firing unless the employer fired the employee under the following conditions:

  • The employee was a victim of discrimination in the workplace
  • The employee complained about illegal practices committed by co-workers or the employer in the workplace
  • The employee helped to organize a union or exercised his or her right to vote
  • The employee refused to do something that was illegal at the employer's request
  • The employee refused to work in unsafe or unhealthy conditions
  • The employee used certain leave rights for an illness, pregnancy or to take care of another family member

If an employee has been fired or believes that he or she has been fired under any of these circumstances, the individual may want to consider speaking with an attorney in order to make sure that his or her rights are protected. Filing a wrongful termination lawsuit may help an employee to get his or her job back, which is extremely important for those who enjoyed their work or for those who were responsible for supporting a family.

If an employee does not get his or her job back, the individual may be eligible to receive compensation for lost wages and other benefits as a result of wrongful termination in the state of California.

Source: Ventura County Star, "What's wrongful termination and did it happen to me?" Nicolas Vrataric, Jan. 24, 2012