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Wrongful termination guidelines in California are complex

When employees get a job, they expect to get paid. They don't expect to be fired for illegal reasons. When an employee is terminated for no good reason, that employee will likely suffer from financial difficulties because of the loss of income. That financial difficulty along with the stigma of being fired can be difficult to overcome.

Employees who don't think they were terminated for a legal reason might be interested in learning about wrongful termination laws in California. These guidelines help keep employees from being fired for things like whistleblowing or filing complaints about sexual harassment.

While California is an at-will employment state, employers are still responsible for ensuring that they meet specific guidelines regarding firing employees. For example, it is illegal for an employer to fire someone because of a discriminatory reason. With this in mind, employers should always make sure they clearly state why an employee is being let go. From there, the employee can work with someone knowledgeable about terminations to determine if the underlying reason is discriminatory.

In the case of someone who is taking part in a protected activity, such as public service, termination should be for something unrelated to that service. Firing an employee because they have to take time off for public service work or a variety of other protected activities is illegal.

For whistleblowers and those who make complaints about sexual harassment, the protections are even more stringent. For these employees, keeping detailed records of events can help to determine if the termination falls under the umbrella of wrongful termination.

Anyone who has been terminated and feels that he or she is a victim of wrongful or illegal termination should work to understand applicable laws to determine if his or her termination was legal.

Source: California Chamber of Commerce, "Employee Termination" Nov. 30, 2014

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