Fresno Wrongful Termination Lawyer
California is one of 49 states in the nation where employment is “at will.” This means that an employer can fire an employee for any reason and at any time. Workers are also free to walk away from a job without any penalty whenever they choose.
However, both state and federal laws put some limits on an employer’s ability to terminate staff. Certain terminations are illegal, and employees are entitled to compensation when employers violate the law. Speak with a Fresno wrongful termination lawyer today at Scott Wagner and Associates to learn more about your rights after an employer cuts ties.
You Might Have Contractual Rights to Employment
Any worker with an employment contract is not “at will.” Instead, the contract spells out the reasons why you can be terminated and any procedure the employer must follow. If your boss ignores this contract, then your termination could be wrongful.
In many workplaces, contractual rights are implied in other documents, such as employee manuals or handbooks or in engagement letters. If the language is specific enough, then an employer must follow the promise contained in these communications.
Discrimination is Illegal
Employers cannot terminate a worker because of their protected characteristic, such as:
- Sex, gender, or gender identity
- Sexual orientation
- National origin
- Medical condition
- Military status
For example, a new boss might decide he does not want to work with women, so he fires a worker for that reason. This is clear discrimination under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Some discrimination is hidden and hard to see—unless you know where to look. For example, an employer might have a grooming policy that requires employees to be “neat.” If the employer selectively enforces this against black employees with dreadlocks or twists, then this is still illegal racial discrimination.
Even if You Quit, You Might Be Able to Sue
Generally, if a worker quits a job, then they have not suffered wrongful termination. However, some employers try to goad a worker into quitting so that they can’t be sued. They might tolerate or encourage harassment and intimidation, all with the goal of getting the employee to submit a resignation letter. This is called “constructive discharge.”
Some elements of this claim include:
- Your employer knew or created the intolerable work environment
- Your employer was motivated to get you to quit
- Your employer’s motivations were discriminatory, retaliatory, or otherwise illegal
Employers Cannot Retaliate for Workers Exercising a Right
Retaliation is a real problem in the workplace. An employer might fire an employee who reports harassment or discrimination. They might also terminate an employee who blows the whistle on illegal conduct, often making up a reason for doing so.
Many laws protect whistleblowers and prohibit retaliation. If a worker is exercising a right, then employers cannot strike back by firing them.
Protect Your Rights
The road to fighting a wrongful termination can be long and winding. The first step is usually filing a discrimination complaint with an administrative agency, either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Our Fresno wrongful termination employees can shepherd workers through the administrative complaint process. We can also obtain a “right to sue” letter which allows us to go into court and file a lawsuit for compensation.
Call Our Fresno Wrongful Termination Lawyers
No worker should be illegally fired. Fortunately, the law provides many remedies, including job reinstatement and lost pay and benefits. Contact us today to schedule a confidential consultation.