Orange County Wrongful Termination Attorneys
Although most employees in California are “at will” (meaning employers can fire them for just about any reason or for no reason), employers cannot fire employees for an illegal or improper reason.
If an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason, California law defines the termination as a wrongful termination even if the employee was “at will.” In those situations, The Haeggquist and Eck Firm attorneys can help California employees obtain a remedy for their employer’s unjust actions.
How Wrongful Termination Attorneys Help “At Will” Employees
“At will” employees may not be fired for an illegal reason. The official law is that Federal and/or California laws prohibit discharging “at will” employees for any of the following reasons:
- Any reason that violates employment discrimination laws, meaning the firing was due to the employee’s age, gender, disability, sexual orientation, or membership in another protected group.
- The employee made a discrimination complaint, engaged in other conduct protected by discrimination laws, or testified in a proceeding before the California Labor Commissioner.
- The employee made a wage claim or exercised certain other rights protected by the California Labor Code.
- The employee took time off that is permitted by state or federal family and medical leave laws.
- The employee engaged in “whistleblower” activities that are protected by state or federal law.
- The employee reported certain safety or health violations to an appropriate state or federal agency.
- The employee refused to work under conditions that violated any occupational safety or health standard.
- The employee refused an employer’s direction to violate the law.
- The employee engaged in protected union activity.
- The employee made a worker’s compensation claim.
- The employee’s wages were garnished or a wage garnishment was threatened.
- The employee exercised the right to take up to two hours off from work to vote in a public election.
- The employee participated in jury duty.
- The employee revealed information about the employee’s salary or conditions of employment.
- The employee obeyed a subpoena to testify.
- Unless a small employer qualifies for an exception, the employee took time off for school visits regarding children in grades K-12 (up to 4 hours per year).
- The employee reported as required for military service, including reserve or National Guard duty, and gave the employer required notices.
If you believe you were illegally terminated for any of the reasons listed above, contact our attorneys for an evaluation of your case.
Instances in Violation of Public Policy
Even if no specific California or federal statute makes it illegal to discharge an employee, a discharge might be wrongful if it violates a fundamental public policy. As a general guide, public policy is one that affects the public at large, not just the employee who was discharged.
Most discharges that violate public policy involve an employee who:
- refused to violate a statute;
- performed a statutory obligation;
- exercised a constitutional or statutory right or privilege; or
- reported a statutory violation for the public’s benefit.
For example, resisting an employee’s pressure to make a false statement to investigators or reporting an unsafe product to regulators (even if the report does not constitute “whistleblowing”) might be examples of conduct that cannot be the basis for a discharge.
Determining whether a discharge violates public policy requires a careful analysis of policies implemented by the California Constitution, state statutes, and administrative rules. If you believe you may have been discharged in violation of a public policy, contact The Haeggquist and Eck Firm for an evaluation of your case.
Remedies for Wrongful Firings
Remedies for a wrongful discharge might include back pay, reinstatement (or future pay in lieu of reinstatement), and other compensation. The Haeggquist and Eck Firm can advise you about available remedies if you were illegally or improperly fired from your job.
Exceptions to “At Will” Employment
The California Labor Code states that “employment, having no specified term, may be terminated at the will of either party on notice to the other.” A “specified term” is defined as a term of employment that is specified to last more than one month.
Most employment is open-ended. Instead of having a specified term, the job lasts until an employee quits or is discharged. Some employees, however, have an employment contract that specifies a term of employment. Employees who have an employment contract are usually highly compensated executives or key employees within an organization.
So long as you are employed and working the employer is likely responsible to pay your full wages. If for any reason your wages are withheld it is important to contact an unpaid wage & hour attorney who can review your case and help you pursue legal action.
Wrongful termination law provides that employees who have an employment contract may be terminated at any time if they commit a willful breach of a duty imposed by the contract, or if they habitually neglect a duty or suffer from a continued incapacity to perform it. The contract might contain additional provisions governing the employer’s right to discharge the employee.
In some cases, an employment contract may be created by express promises that an employer made to an employee or by provisions in an employee handbook or other publications that were provided to the employee. If you are not certain whether written or oral promises that you received might give you protections that most “at will” employees lack, ask The Haeggquist and Eck Office to review the circumstances of your case.
Employees who belong to a union are working pursuant to a collective bargaining agreement, which is a contract between the union membership and the employer. Those agreements typically specify the conditions under which an employee can be fired. Collective bargaining agreements often create procedures an employer must follow, such as imposing progressive discipline for minor violations before terminating an employee. The agreements may also give employees an opportunity to challenge a discharge by arbitration or some other means.
Many government workers also fall within an exception to the presumption that workers are “at will” employees. Government employees who are not working at a professional or managerial level are usually protected by civil service laws. Those laws normally prohibit firing an employee without cause (that is, without a good reason).
Need Help? Our Lawyers Are Here To Answer Your Questions
Those who have been fired wrongfully can receive compensation for the suffering they’ve had to endure. If you or someone you know has been wrongfully fired, speaking with a wrongful termination attorney in Orange County about your situation would help you to better understand your options. Our employment lawyers provide free consultations and a no win no fee promise.
We know that you want the best wrongful termination lawyer for your case. That is why our experienced legal specialists will work to get you a maximum recovery for your claim. Call 949-724-9200 today to receive assistance.