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Considering whether termination was actually wrongful discharge

On Behalf of | Dec 13, 2019 | Firm News |

Losing a job can be a traumatic event for a California worker. This may be especially true if it seems that the reason for termination had nothing to do with how hard the employee worked or how well he or she performed the job duties. Because California is an at-will employment state, it may not be immediately obvious whether the employer’s action in terminating the employee was illegal. 

Here are some things Forbes suggests that employees consider if their employer fires them. 

What is wrongful discharge? 

Employers cannot fire a worker because of one of these factors: 

  • Religion 
  • Color, race or national origin 
  • Age, disability or genetic information 
  • Marital status, pregnancy status or children 
  • Gender, gender identity or sexual orientation 

An employer must also not retaliate against an employee who files a complaint with a federal agency such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, participates in an investigation or files for workers’ compensation. 

How does an employee recognize wrongful discharge? 

If it appears that the employer singled out the employee for termination even though other employees were engaged in the same actions or behaviors, the employee should consider whether the termination may have been discrimination or retaliation based on a protected class or activity. It may also be wrongful termination if the employer harasses the employee or makes it otherwise so intolerable at the workplace that the employee quits. 

FindLaw notes that employees should review the company’s disciplinary and termination policies and procedures to see if an employer has grounds for termination. If there is an employment contract, the employee should also review this document carefully to see if the employer violated any terms and conditions, whether spelled out or implied.