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 employee 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.