Both California and federal law provide protections against an employer demoting or firing an employee for certain reasons. As a general rule, unless there is a written employment agreement, all employees in California are “at will,” which means they can be fired for any reason, however unfair or petty it may seem. This also allows employees to leave their job at any time for whatever reason they like.
However, there are certain situations where it is illegal for an employer to demote or fire their employee. Those situations involve a violation of a fundamental public policy. In order to fall under this rule, the following must happen:
- There must be a violation of a policy that is supported by either constitutional or statutory provisions (i.e. a state or federal law must have been broken)
- The policy must be public in the sense that it “’inures to the benefit of the public” rather than serving merely the interests of the individual
- The policy must have been articulated at the time of the discharge
- The policy must be “fundamental” and “substantial”
Examples of violations of public policy are:
- Racial discrimination
- Age discrimination
- Disability discrimination
- Gender or sexual orientation discrimination
- Retaliation for failing to participate in illegal activities
- Retaliation for complaining about illegal and/or fraudulent activities
If an employee can prove that the violation of the public policy at issue was a motivating factor in their demotion or firing, they can potentially bring a claim against their employer for wrongful termination in violation of public policy.
With these issues in mind, an attorney can help you determine if you may have a valid claim, and, if so, against whom. If you believe you have a case for wrongful termination, please contact Hariri Law Group at 619-363-2889 for a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you regarding your case. *Disclaimer: Every case is fact specific. In order to properly assess your case please contact one of our experienced attorneys.