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When At-Will Employment Becomes Wrongful Termination

August 4, 2020 Legal Team

For many employees, one of the worst-case scenarios at work is fired from their job. Aside from impacting your financial situation, being terminate out of the blue can lead to a gap in work history and potentially impact employment opportunities. But whatever reason you were given for being terminated from your job, there are a few things you should remember.

Limitations of At-Will Employment

As we’ve discussed in previous blogs, California is an “at-will” employment state. Essentially, this means that every employee is assumed to be working at will. And without a contract stipulating very certain parameters, your employer has the right to fire you for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all. The employee, in turn, also has the right to quit or leave their job at any point, too.

So how do wrongful termination laws fit in with an at-fault employment system? If your employer has the right to fire you for any reason, how can they be held accountable for wrongfully terminated you?

It’s important to know that there are limitations to the at-will employment statute. In other words, there are reasons why your employer would not be able to legally fire you. California law protects employees from discrimination as well as employer retaliation.

Signs of Wrongful Termination

In order to pursue a claim against your employer for wrongful termination, you must show that the reason for your termination was unlawful. However, it’s unlikely that your employer will readily acknowledge to firing you for an illegal reason. Instead, many employers will cite another reason for your termination, such as being late to work or low-quality performance.

For instance, let’s say that an employee is pregnant and planning to take time off to have the baby soon. The worker has only been late to work a handful of times in the years working at the company and has received positive feedback on yearly reviews. But before the woman goes on leave, she is terminated from her job for “consistently being late for work and slacking off.”

Taking into account the circumstances of her time at the company, it may be a sign that the worker was not actually fired for her performance, but for her being pregnant and taking time off; this would be in violation of the Family & Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

Here are a few situations prior to your termination that could mean you were wrongfully terminated:

  • You experienced microaggressions at work

  • You sustained an injury that meant you couldn’t perform the same job you did before

  • You reported your employer for labor, safety, or health code violations

  • You consistently received positive feedback about your performance

  • You were never reprimanded or reported for misconduct

  • The reason given for your termination does not match with previous feedback from your employer

If you have been fired for any reason, you should always inquire as to why you were fired and who made the final decision. It’s a good idea to get the response written down so you have documentation of it.

Protecting the Rights Workers Across California

If you believe that your employer wrongfully terminated you, please do not hesitate to reach out to our firm here for help protecting your legal rights. Just because your employer claims to have fired you for a legal reason does not mean that this is the truth. Our firm will conduct an extensive investigation into the matter to determine whether you were wrongfully terminated.

Additionally, there are no out-of-pocket fees at our firm and anyone can afford our services. We work on contingency fees, meaning that the fees we collect are contingent on if and when we help win our clients the compensation they deserve. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us to learn more about your legal options and rights.

Contact Aegis Law Firm at (949) 379-6250 to get started with a free case review. We are fully operational during the coronavirus pandemic and will readily offer you a phone or video consultation in place of an in-person meeting.