Losing your job can be a life-changing experience that impacts all facets of your day-to-day lifestyle. When you think you have lost your job due to a wrongful reason, you may seek compensation for your lost earnings and other damages or even reinstatement to your position.
Many factors can show when a wrongful termination was wrongful. In this article, we’ll explain a protected class and when a firing decision violates the law. If your employer fired you because of your gender, age, sexual orientation, or a variety of other characteristics, you might be entitled to damages.
An employment attorney in your area can provide you insight into your case by applying local law and statutes to the facts and circumstances of your case and then take the right action to obtain the settlement or damages that you deserve for your wrongful termination.
What is a Protected Class Status, and What Protections are Available?
When firing someone – or making any employment decisions – an employer cannot take certain characteristics into account. Employers cannot discriminate against potential employees or present employees based on their race, color, religion, national origin, disability, genetic information, age, or sex.
The law protects persons over 40 from employment discrimination based on age, whether deciding to hire or fire. Employers cannot make employment decisions based on gender identity, sexual orientation, or pregnancy status of an employee. The inability to discriminate based upon genetic information includes the family medical history of an individual.
Knowing which classes have protections can show whether or not your firing violated your rights as a member of a protected class.
Employers Cannot Use a Protected Class Status as the Basis for Termination
If you lost your job because of your protected class, you may pursue damages. If an individual loses their job because of their sexual identity, for example, and their employer terminated them after learning about this on social media, that termination was wrongful. Should a person lose their job because of their advanced age and higher pay demands because of their seniority, they may likewise seek compensation.
Identifying situations where you lost your job, specifically because of your membership in a protected status, can be difficult to determine clearly. Employers may present alternative reasons for the termination that seem rightful, obscuring an otherwise wrongful termination. An employment attorney who has worked on similar cases can assess the facts and circumstances of your termination and determine whether you might have a viable case for wrongful termination.
California is an Employment-At-Will State
California is an employment-at-will state. An employee or an employer can, at any time, unilaterally decide to terminate employment upon notice to the other party. If an employee worked for the company for a specified term, either party can terminate the employment when the other party breaches the agreement. Being in a state that follows the employment-at-will model makes it more difficult in some instances to collect damages for wrongful termination, as termination is wrongful in fewer circumstances.
If a Termination is Due to Retaliation, It is Wrongful
With the at-will element, employers can terminate employees for any reason, except one that the law would prevent due to discrimination or retaliation.
In California, an employer cannot terminate an employee in retaliation for the employee’s filing of a complaint of discrimination, their participation in a discrimination investigation or lawsuit, or their acts opposing discrimination such as threatening to file a charge or complaint of discrimination.
Employees who file complaints in line with discrimination laws have protections in their activities to ensure that companies comply with related laws.
Knowing whether your employer terminated you in retaliation for taking protected action in some situations can be difficult to determine. You do not have eyes inside of managerial meetings, nor do you know what they discussed as the topic in the meeting that led to your termination.
Having an employment attorney on your side is especially valuable in collecting evidence in support of your case. An employment attorney knows what questions to ask to determine what the influencing factors behind your termination decision were. If they were wrongful, your lawyer will know how to make the most of your damages.
Connect With an Employment Attorney to Discuss Your Wrongful Termination Now
A local California employment attorney with experience working on other wrongful termination cases knows the procedure to begin your claim. Discrimination is only one of several different bases for wrongful termination, and these include retaliatory termination, one that goes against public policy, or one that prevents you from exercising your rights.
Employers are generally ready to put up a fight against wrongful termination. They want to avoid liability or any possible reputational damage, so they will challenge your claim. You need an experienced employment attorney to handle your case.
If you are unsure whether your firing was wrongful, have a legal professional assess your situation, legal rights, and the best options to receive the relief you deserve.