What rights does an employee have when he or she is laid off, fired, or otherwise terminated from employment?
Under California law, employment is presumed to be at-will. At-will employment means the employee or the employer can end the employment relationship at any time, with or without a good reason.
In California there are several exceptions to this rule. For example, employers may not terminate an employee because of the employee’s disability or because the employee is too old. Employer’s cannot terminate an employee because of his or her race, religion, national origin, gender, or sexual orientation.
Additionally, employers cannot terminate an employee for exercising his or her statutory employment rights. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act and the California Family Rights Act, employees have a right to unpaid time-off when adopting or giving birth to a new child, caring for a sick family member, or simply treating the employee’s own serious health condition. It is unlawful to fire employees for legitimately exercising his or her rights under such laws.
It is also illegal to fire an employee in retaliation for complaining about, refusing to participate in, or reporting unlawful conduct at work. An employee cannot be fired (or disciplined) in retaliation for participating in an investigation into a complaint about discrimination in the workplace.
What should I do if I have a claim for wrongful termination?
If you believe you have a claim for wrongful termination, click here.