When Is It OK For An Employer To Fire An Employee?

Under common law, an employment contract of indefinite duration can be terminated by either the employee or the employer at any time for any reason, this is called at-will employment. Knowing this, why do we still see employment lawsuits regarding wrongful termination every year? over the past 20 years employee lawsuits have risen 400 percent. This is because there are rights that employees have and there are liabilities that employers are responsible for that are overlooked when it comes to California employment laws.

Employers should be acquainted with the liabilities that are in implied contracts, for there are rights that an employee has within those contracts for it can lead to wrongful termination. Wrongful Termination is when an employee is discharged from employment for illegal reasons or if company policy is violated when the employee is fired. Employees may have an implied contract (a non-written contract that is based on a mutual understanding and expectations between two parties) with their employers that could prevent the employer from firing the employee without just cause. These implied contracts can be informal and it is up to the court to determine if such a condition existed. The court bases this decision on a variety of factors including:

Promises of job security

Number of years served

Performance based on positive evaluations, promotions, salary raises, bonuses

Existing company policies, written or oral, describing disciplinary and termination procedures.

Other criteria

One of the more apparent reasons for wrongful termination is through discrimination. Though hard to prove, all acts of discrimination such as an employer firing an employee on the basis of age, race, sex, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, religion, national origin, or gender identity is an act of wrongful termination.

In other situations, wrongful termination can be very hard to determine. Other common forms of wrongful termination that both the employer and employee should be aware of include:

  • Refusing to work in unsafe working conditions
  • Requesting an accommodation for a disability
  • Taking a pregnancy leave
  • Marital or family status
  • Refusing to sign an unlawful non-compete clause
  • Taking medical leave
  • Reporting unlawful activities to government agency
  • Violation of CA labor laws
  • Legal matters regarding wrongful terminations can be complicated and frustrating for both the employee and the employers. Here at The Law Offices of Jon Webster, we’ve specialized in California employment law for the past two decades.

So if you are an employee and have been wrongfully terminated, or if you are an employer and have experienced a breach of contract, contact our firm. We have the legal expertise and the client-based attitude that makes The Law Offices of Jon Webster, the right choice for you.