Losing a job is difficult, and upsetting regardless of why it happened, but sometimes it is a violation of employment law. But how do you know the difference? Did you get fired or are you a victim of wrongful termination?
Losing a Job is High Stress and High Emotion:
When you worked hard to get a job, worked at the job, and felt secure in your position, receiving a termination notice can be a very stressful situation. For many, losing a job is also a time of high emotion. You might be provided with a severance package, and plenty of notice. Or you may be asked to gather your things and go straight to your car. Regardless of the details of how it happens, you had a job, and then someone decided you don’t anymore. The loss results in stress and general upset; it’s unavoidable.
Were You Let Go or Were You Fired or Were You Wrongfully Terminated?
During this time of high stress and high emotion, it’s easy to jump straight to “They can’t fire me - I’ll sue!” However, the first step is determining why your employer terminated your job. Did they cite a reason? Was it something you did or said? Was the termination unfair? Illegal? Can you sue?
3 Key Differences Between Getting Fired and a Wrongful Termination:
In some cases, it’s difficult to pinpoint whether a firing was legal or not, but there are three things you can look for that are strong indications that you could have a case for wrongful termination.
- If the termination violates an employment contract or implied contract.
- If the termination was a result of whistleblower activities.
- If the termination was a result of filing a workers compensation claim, reporting a work injury, or taking leave under Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or California employee leave laws.
If any of the above situations applies to your termination, it may have been illegal. Ask a local employment law attorney about filing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Does Your Employment Contract Require Cause for Termination?
If you have recently been terminated and you had an employment contract in place, get it out and read it. California's Labor Code contains a presumption that employees are employed at will, so the employer (or the employee) may terminate employment at any time, with or without cause or prior notice. However, if you had an employment contract, look to see if it included a clause that states employment can only be terminated “for cause.” If the contract includes this stipulation, the employer needs a valid “cause” to terminate employment legally.
Were You Fired After Reporting Illegal Activities in the Workplace?
The whistleblower law protects California employees from retaliation for refusing to participate in any illegal activity or reporting illegal activities or business practices. Firing an employee for whistleblowing is a form of wrongful termination.
Were You Fired After an Injury or FMLA Leave?
If you were fired after you reported a workplace injury, filed a workers' compensation claim, or took time off under FMLA (or California employee leave laws), your employer may have acted in a discriminatory manner by firing you from your position. Terminating for discriminatory reasons may lead to a successful wrongful termination lawsuit.
If Your Termination was Illegal:
If your termination was illegal, reach out to an experienced employment law attorney in your local area. Your attorney can answer any questions you have and give you a timeline for how the case should proceed. Most of the time when an employee is fired, they simply got fired, and no laws were broken, but there are many cases in which the employer’s action violated employment law, and while you may never receive a satisfactory “reason” for why you lost your job, you could seek compensation for the damage it caused.If you have been wrongfully terminated, you have the right to receive compensation for your losses. Get in touch with Moss Bollinger, Oxnard, California employment law attorney, he’s dedicated to protecting and asserting the rights of his clients. Call 866-942-7974 today for a free consultation or contact us online.