In most cases, an employee can be fired at any time and for nearly any
reason. Employees can also be fired for no reason at all. This is known
as “at will” employment. However, employment law does recognize
several exceptions to this rule. To determine if you may have been the target of
wrongful termination, your employment attorney near San Jose, CA, will determine whether your
employer may have violated California employment law.
Advise your employment attorney whether you have a written contract or
other written document such as an employee handbook or policy and procedure
manual applicable to your position. Such documents may list specific circumstances
for which you may be fired or it may explain that you can only be fired
for good cause, or that the
employer must first administer progressive discipline. In that case, your
attorney may argue that you are not an at will employee, but that you
were wrongfully terminated in breach of an express or implied contract.
It is often difficult to prove that an employer
breached an implied promise of continued employment to an employee. However, your attorney may bring up certain factors to
argue this point. For example, your employer may have an employment handbook
that details progressive levels of disciplinary action, which may imply
that an employee must go through these procedures before being fired.
Other factors that the court may consider include verbal assurances of
continued employment, the duration of employment, and the violation of
the typical employment practices of the employer.
It is a violation of federal and state laws to fire an employee based
on a protected class. Inform your attorney if you feel you may have been
fired because of your religion, age, national origin, race, color, disability,
pregnancy, or genetic information.
Public Policy Violations
In some cases, a wrongful termination claim may be filed on the basis
of public policy violations. For example, it may be considered wrongful
termination to fire an employee because he or she took time off to vote,
serve on a jury, serve in the military or National Guard, or engage in
acts of whistleblowing.