Federal Laws Protecting Employee Rights

Federal laws also protect “at-will” employees  from being wrongfully terminated for participating in protected activities. For example:

  • The Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) protects employees from discrimination for the exercise of their right to take family care leave as provided in the Act.
  • Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discriminatory discharge on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, and religion.
  • The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits discrimination against qualified individuals with a disability, regardless of whether the disability is mental or physical, and regardless of whether the employer receives federal funds.
  • The Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), and Railway Labor Act (RLA) prohibits discharge on account of an employee’s union membership, union activity, organizational activities, or their protected concerted activities relating to employees’ common interests.
  • The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) protects employees from discharge for exercising their rights secured by the Act’s wage-and-hour standards.
  • The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits the discharge of an employee over the age of 40, where it is shown that the discharge was based on age.
  • The Pregnancy Discrimination Act prohibits discharge because of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.
  • The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Act (Fed-OSH Act) protects employees from being discharged on account of refusing to work in an unsafe workplace environment.
  • The Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry and prohibits discharge of employees for exercising their rights secured by the Act.
  • The Consumer Credit Protection Act (CCPA) protects employees from discharge by their employers because their wages have been garnished for any one debt, and limits the amount of an employee’s earnings that may be garnished in any one week.
  • The Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act prohibits an employer from refusing to reemploy an inducted person who satisfactorily completes his or her military service and who remains qualified to perform the job. This Act further prohibits an employer from discharging a reemployed veteran within one year after reemployment absent good cause.
  • The Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) prohibits most employers from using an employee’s alien status as a reason for terminating employment, as long as that employee is legally eligible to work in the United States.

These are just a few examples/reasons for which an employee may not be terminated for. There are scores of more constitutional provisions, statutes, regulations, and case law that can also serve as the basis for a wrongful termination.

There are specific California laws protecting employees from being terminated for participating in protected activities.