In 2020, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission secured $439.2 million for private-sector employees who alleged violations of U.S. labor laws.
If you’ve experienced wrongful termination, a wrongful termination lawyer can help you stand up for your rights.
At the Law Office of John Dalton, we know employment laws. We dedicate ourselves to defending the best interests of our clients and securing recovery for the injured.
Our results speak for themselves. We have collected dozens of verdicts of up to $30,000,000 for our clients who have endured sex discrimination and harassment.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Most workers in California are “at-will” employees. “At-will” means that unless you are under contract, your employer can terminate your employment with or without cause. However, state and federal labor laws limit the employer’s rights under at-will employment.
While your boss does not need a reason to fire you, they cannot fire you for an unlawful reason, including:
- Discrimination based on a protected class;
- Termination for using sick leave; and
- Retaliation for reporting wrongdoing.
Discrimination in this sense refers to arbitrary judgments about individuals based on group stereotypes. Examples of wrongful termination include discrimination for requesting pregnancy leave, over reasonable accommodations for a disability, or after acting as a whistleblower.
Suppose you have evidence that your employer fired you for an unlawful reason. In that case, you have the right to sue your employer for a violation of California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and other laws.
Your Palm Springs wrongful termination attorney can help you understand the laws that govern your employment.
What Are the Exceptions to At-Will Employment in California?
In addition to unlawful discrimination, California recognizes several other exceptions to at-will employment.
To ensure that employee firings are just, California prohibits terminations against public policy, an implied-in-fact contract, or good faith and fair dealing. These concepts are based on common law principles, and an experienced wrongful termination attorney can help you navigate them.
Terminations Against Public Policy
California is one of 11 states to allow a public policy exception to at-will employment. When a termination violates fundamental principles of public policy, the discharged employee may maintain a tort action.
To recover damages under this theory, you must show that the policy is:
- Outlined in either constitutional or statutory provisions;
- “Public” in the sense that it serves the interests of the public rather than the individual;
- Well-established at the time of the termination; and
- Substantial and fundamental.
Although these factors are relatively straightforward, courts have discretion when interpreting the last factor, that the policy is substantial and fundamental. To meet this requirement, the policy must ordinarily appear in a formal affirmative expression of law, such as the state constitution or statutes.
California has several public policy prohibitions on terminations in its law. For example, California prohibits terminating an employee for attending jury duty or appearing in court as a victim of a crime.
Terminations Against an Implied-in-Fact Contract
Just as your employer must follow the terms of your employment contract, an implied-in-fact contract can bind an employer. It is called “implied-in-fact” because it is based on the facts of the situation.
If you and your employer discussed employment terms such as rate, scope, and time of employment, you might have an implied-in-fact contract. To prevail on this argument, you will need to show specific instances of conduct that caused you to believe there was a contract.
For example, if your employer pays you every Friday without a written policy, your employer’s prior conduct may imply that you have a right to be paid on Friday.
Terminations Against Good Faith and Fair Dealing
California implies a covenant of good faith and fair dealing in every contract. When forming an employment relationship, each party agrees not to unfairly interfere with the right of the other to receive the benefits of the employment relationship.
An employer breaches this covenant if they fire a worker in violation of company policies, fire a worker to avoid having to pay benefits the worker stayed employed, or lie or misrepresent the reasons for the worker’s termination.
If your employer terminated you in breach of this covenant, you can sue for breach of contract, but not tort damages.
Call a Palm Springs Wrongful Termination Attorney: The Law Office of John Dalton
After a wrongful termination, it’s normal to feel powerless and alone. If you’re searching for a wrongful termination attorney near me, you’ve found a court-tested, award-winning employment lawyer at the Law Office of John W. Dalton.
We are known for our compassion and ability to stand up to hostile employers. You’ll reach an experienced, knowledgeable attorney when you call our office. Let us get started on your case today.
Our experienced lawyer also handles other types of employment cases including: