When an employer directs an employee to engage in illegal activity it puts the employee in an incredibly difficult situation. On one hand, the employee wants to uphold the law, is morally and ethically opposed to what the employer is asking, and naturally would fear the legal consequences of his action. But an equally compelling factor might be the employee's need for the job, the people who depend on him or her to provide a paycheck, and the difficulty of finding gainful employment in this economy. It can seem like a no-win situation.
Just because your employer has given a false reason for your termination does not necessarily mean that you have a case for wrongful termination. The key is whether or not the reason given by the employer is merely an excuse, or pretext, for an illegally motivated termination.
Numerous federal and state statutes protect equal opportunity in the workplace. The analysis applicable under most of these laws derives from Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) generally follows this federal law, but features some slight variations that are often advantageous to plaintiffs.
Wrongful termination claims are made whenever a person thinks he or she has been unfairly and unlawfully fired or terminated from a job. If the firing could have been unlawful, then you have a right to bring your case to trial. Through the legal process, it may be possible to obtain monetary damages, a severance package or other benefits from the defendant.
When an employee engages in a protected activity, be it refusing to break the law or reporting unsafe work conditions, he or she should be protected from any adverse action from an employer. This is the basic principle underlying the various anti-retaliation laws in California - an employer can't retaliate against an employee for engaging in a protected activity. In practice, bringing a successful anti-retaliation claim against an employer can be more involved. Sometimes, even when an employee has clearly engaged in a protected activity, he or she may not be successful in bringing a claim. If, for example, an employer had a legitimate reason for firing the employee it is up to the employee to show that the protected activity was a substantial motivating factor in the retaliation.
California law prohibits employers from terminating employees due to discrimination. For instance, if you've recently come out as being homosexual and are let go due to your sexuality and preferences, this is wrongful discrimination and termination.
We have written before about the unfair and discriminatory workplace and employment practices that are standard fair at Walmart. This video highlights how Walmart uses unfair employment practices to sell cheap and poorly manufactured goods, mostly from China, here in the United States and throughout the world.
A whistleblower was awarded six million dollars by a Federal Court jury in Los Angeles today as plaintiff Catherine Zulfer won a hard-fought case against Playboy Enterprises. Zulfer, the former controller for the company and a thirty-year employee, alleged that the company violated the whistleblower-protection provisions of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 when it retaliated against her for refusing to participate in improper accounting practices on the part of the company.
When an employer terminates an employee in retaliation for blowing the whistle on illegal activity or based on the employee’s race, religion, gender or other protected class, it could become the basis of a wrongful termination lawsuit. In court, the plaintiff must provide evidence that proves that this was the basis for the termination.