Employment & Business Attorneys Campbell CA

“I was fired without good cause. Do I have a wrongful termination case?”  In California, the general rule is that employment is “at will,” unless one has a contract to the contrary. “At will” means that one can be terminated at any time, for any reason that is not illegal, or for no reason at all.  In other words, in general an employee can be legally terminated without “good cause.”  If an employer’s reason (stated or not) for terminating an employee is illegal, then the termination is wrongful, regardless of whether the employee was or was not “at will.” Whether it is illegal depends on whether it is substantially motivated by an employee belonging to a “protected class” or engaging in “protected activity.”

Protected classes include:

  • Disability
  • Racelawyer-doing-the-i-accuse-gesture
  • Pregnancy
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Marital Status
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • Military Status
  • Parental Status
  • National Origin
  • Medical Condition

Protected activities include:

  • Reporting illegal conduct to a government agency
  • Political activities outside of work
  • Filing a wage claim/lawsuit against the employer
  • Jury duty, voting, or serving as an elections officer
  • Refusing to take a polygraph
  • Taking a legal leave of absence
  • Union Organizing
  • Refusing to commit an illegal act
  • Filing for Workers’ Compensation
  • Reporting for military duty

These lists are not exhaustive. Each case is evaluated on its own merits. Also, both federal and state laws may apply. Which law applies in a given case is not discussed here.

Every suspected wrongful termination is different. They are generally difficult cases. Membership in a “protected class” or engaging in “protected activity” does not mean that a termination is legally wrongful. One does not have a wrongful termination claim simply because one is fired while a member of one or more “protected classes.” The case often becomes about the employee’s performance, even in the face of good reviews. If there is a “legal” reason for the termination, the employer may defeat the claim, even if there is also evidence of an “illegal” reason.  Employers can “legally” make unfair, bad, wrong or stupid decisions.

Even though wrongful termination cases are time consuming and expensive, there is a potential to recover substantial damages and attorney’s fees. Therefore, we carefully consider every potential wrongful termination case that comes our way. Click here to contact us about your claim.