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California wrongful termination claims: Know your rights

In last week's blog post, we covered hostile work environments. There are some instances in which that hostile work environment might lead to wrongful termination. We touched on that point a few weeks back when we covered the case pertaining to the Dominos' Pizza worker who complained of sexual harassment. Those issues might have you wondering how you should handle an instance of wrongful termination in California.

Not every fired employee is the victim of wrongful termination. Employees who don't have contracts are considered "at will" employees who can be fired for any reason as long as the reason isn't illegal. If you have an employment contract, even a verbal one, you likely have specific clauses that cover your termination. If that is the case, scrutinizing your contract might help you to determine if you have a wrongful termination claim.

If you didn't have an employment contract, you have to determine if the reason for your termination was legal. You can't be terminated for sexual orientation, religion, disability, race, national origin or age. You also can't be fired for standing up for your rights, reporting illegal activities, being part of a union or reporting unsafe conditions.

Anyone who has been fired from a job who thinks he or she has a wrongful termination claim should take proactive steps immediately upon being terminated. Keep records of your termination, including who fired you and what they said. You can ask to see your personnel file to gather information from there. In some cases, you might be able to keep handbooks and other documents. Seeking advice about this is a good idea because of potential legal implications of doing so.

Source: FindLaw, "Your Rights when Losing or Leaving a Job" Oct. 02, 2014

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