California employment law is very clear: Wrongful dismissal is illegal.
But what is wrongful dismissal, and what can you do if your employer illegally fires you?
What is Wrongful Dismissal?
Wrongful dismissal, typically called wrongful termination, is what occurs when an employer fires or terminates an employee for reasons involving discrimination, whistleblowing, or making complaints about discrimination. It can also occur when an employee refuses to participate in illegal activities, takes protected absences (such as those covered under the Family and Medical Leave Act), or for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace.
Statistically, the most common form of wrongful dismissal involves some form of discrimination.
Regardless of the reason, if you’ve been wrongfully dismissed by your employer, you could benefit from talking to a Glendale employment lawyer.
Wrongful Dismissal: Types of Illegal Discrimination
It’s illegal for an employer to make job decisions based on:
- Disability (physical or mental)
- Gender or sexual orientation
- Medical conditions
- Military or reserve status
- Use of lawful leave rights
There are several laws in place to protect employees, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately, many people believe that because California is considered an “at-will” employment state, wrongful dismissal can’t exist… but that’s simply not true. No employee can be fired for an unlawful reason (or for a purpose that violates fundamental public policies, for that matter). Certainly an employee can be fired or quit at any time—but employers can’t break the law.
What Companies Are Excluded From Being “Employers” Under the Civil Rights Act?
Some companies don’t count as “employers” under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, including the U.S. government and the departments of the District of Columbia, Indian tribes, and tax-exempt, bona fide membership clubs. Some religious entities are excluded, too.
What Happens in a Wrongful Dismissal Case?
Your attorney will look at several factors in your case to determine whether your employer violated anti-discrimination laws, whether you refused to participate in criminal activities, or you simply exercised your protected statutory rights. He’ll also find out whether you reported violations of the law or your employer was otherwise acting illegally, resulting in your wrongful dismissal.
If you were wrongfully dismissed, your lawyer will file the appropriate petitions with the court and develop a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.
Can You Recover Damages From Wrongful Dismissal in California?
There are two types of wrongful dismissal cases in California: Those involving for-cause employees and those involving at-will employees.
If you were a for-cause employee, meaning that you have an employment agreement that outlines your term of employment or reasons your employer can fire you, you could be entitled to recover damages that include back pay, interest, the value of your benefits, relocation costs, and the loss of your security.
If you were an at-will employee, you could be entitled to recover general or special damages, including damages for emotional distress, lost wages or back pay, the loss of your benefits, and the loss of future wages and interest. Some people who have been wrongfully dismissed are also able to recover punitive damages—money the employer is ordered to pay as a type of punishment for being malicious, oppressive, or fraudulent.
Do You Need to Talk to a Glendale Employment Lawyer?
If you need to talk to a Glendale, CA employment lawyer about wrongful dismissal, call us right away at 818-617-9706 or 800-774-4163. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can begin developing a strategy that gets you the best possible outcome.