If you believe that you are a victim of wrongful termination from your job, it is essential that you contact the Los Angeles wrongful termination attorneys at the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello, & Gignac as soon as possible. Our experienced California employment law attorneys will be able to assist you in determining if your rights have been violated. We have helped countless employees recover compensation, benefits, and professional standing in wrongful termination lawsuits.
In these trying economic times, many Californians are finding it difficult to keep their jobs as many employers are cutting back by laying off or firing employees. Although many employers have a right to fire employees for any or no reason at all, in certain circumstances termination of employees can be deemed "wrongful termination" and the fired worker may be entitled to damages.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Unless an employee has a written employment contract, most workers in California are under a system known as “at will employment,” which means, among other things, that employers can terminate employees at will without any explanation. In other words, an employee can be fired for any reason or no reason at all, with or without cause (just as an employee can quit for any or no reason at any time). However, there are very specific exceptions to the “employment at will” rules and an employee can sue for wrongful termination under any of these exceptions:
- violations of existing employment contracts
- fraud or misrepresentation
- “implied contracts” (such as employment related promises made in employee handbooks)
- retaliatory discharge (such as whistleblowing claims)
- violations of public policy (such as discrimination)
Another form of wrongful termination is called “constructive discharge.” This happens when the employee is not fired but quits because the work conditions are so horrible that he or she has been effectively forced out. Under California law, if the conditions of employment are so severe that a reasonable person could not consider working any longer in that environment, then the person may quit and sue for damages for lost wages. However, employees can not merely quit and sue after an isolated incidence of harassment or because work conditions are less than perfect. Employees should document their attempts to remedy the situation with their employer, and only consider quitting and suing for damages if things do not improve and the work environment becomes intolerable.
Examples Of Wrongful Termination
Some examples of wrongful termination are listed below. Under California law, it is illegal for an employer to fire an employee for any of the following reasons:
- race, sex, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age, or some other protected classification
- reporting unsafe work conditions
- retaliation for reporting any suspected illegal activity to a government agency (such as a whistleblower’s claim)
- opposing an illegal activity by the employer
- demanding legally required rest or lunch breaks
- requesting an accommodation for a disability
- taking pregnancy leave, family leave, or medical leave
- refusing to work in an unsafe area
- taking time to vote
- political affiliation
- marital or family status
- serving on jury duty
- refusing to sign an unlawful non-competition agreement
- reporting sexual harassment
- filing a workers’ compensation claim
- taking advantage of any employer provided benefit
- supporting a co-worker’s claim of sexual harassment or discrimination
Wrongful Termination Attorneys Los Angeles California
Despite the fact that most employers may fire an employee for any or no reason at all, many exceptions exist that make some terminations wrongful. If you believe that you have been wrongfully terminated, contact the wrongful termination attorneys at the Law Offices of Arias, Ozzello, & Gignac today. We may be able to help you recover such damages as back pay, front pay, benefits, emotional distress, punitive damages, and possibly reinstatement (if desired). If you were fired for reporting fraud involving federal contracts or federal funding, you may even be eligible to receive a percentage of any money recovered by the government. Call the experienced employment law attorneys at Arias, Ozzello, & Gignac for a free case evaluation.