It’s not uncommon for people who have been laid off or fired to believe that their employer acted illegally. They may believe that they were a good employee and the employer must have a good reason to fire him or her. However, that is not correct. In California, employers can fire employees for any reason or no reason at all, unless the reason was illegal. California is called an “at-will” state.
Although California’s laws are friendly to employers, employees do have some legal rights. An employer cannot fire an employee if the termination is based on illegal discrimination – such as firing someone for being gay, pregnant, too old, a certain race or religion, or for being disabled. An employer also cannot fire an employee to get revenge on the employee for reporting some illegal action the employer was taking. There are also some employees that may have extra protections. For example, union members and government employees may have additional rights and protections that are not available to employees in other industries. Employers also cannot fire employees who refuse to break the law.
As an employee, if you have been wrongfully terminated, you employer may have also taken other illegal actions. You may not have been paid all of the wages to which you were entitled, such as overtime or minimum wage. Your employer may have refused to pay you your accrued vacation leave. Also, it’s likely that your employer will ask you to sign a severance agreement. Most severance agreements require employees to sign their claims away against the employer in exchange for severance pay or benefits. Although it can be tempting to sign that in order to be able to make ends meet, you should contact an employment attorney who can advise you of your rights.
If you have been fired and you believe it was illegal, call me, Conal Doyle, Los Angeles employment attorney at 310-385-0567. I can help. Call today to learn more or to schedule your free consultation.