Do You Have A Wrongful Termination Case?
What Is Wrongful Termination?
In short, Wrongful Termination is a legal claim you can assert if you are fired for a reason that violates important public policy in California – namely, if the termination itself violates an existing law such as discrimination, harassment or retaliation (even whistleblowing).
There are other types of situations that can give rise to a wrongful termination claim, however, it is usually treated as an “add-on” claim to any existing violation of law.
For example, if your employer fired you because of your medical condition, your primary claim will be disability discrimination under the FEHA. However, you will also have an additional claim for wrongful termination since it is illegal (and against public policy) to fire employees because of their disability (i.e. because the FEHA statute outlaws such activity).
It’s a bit circular, I know, but that’s why some refer to Wrongful Termination as an “add-on” claim since it usually cannot stand on its own as the only basis for your lawsuit.
What About At-Will Employment?
This term gets thrown around a lot, usually by your employer.
First, “At-Will Employment” does NOT mean your employer can unlawfully discriminate, harass or retaliate against you (or do anything else that’s illegal).
At-Will Employment simply means that you can quit your job at any time and that your employer can terminate your employment at any time for any reason or no reason at all . . . as long as it’s not for an illegal reason like unlawful discrimination, harassment or retaliation.
Still, that doesn’t stop some employers from waiving that term around as if they’ve got a “get out of jail free” card or something. It definitely doesn’t work like that. If it did, we sure wouldn’t have all these fancy wrongful termination verdicts and settlements now, would we?