Firing an Employee
Firing an employee is an unfortunate but unavoidable fact of owning a business. There are a wide range of reasons to fire someone, whether they violate rules or are simply not the right fit for the environment. While there can be many reasons to terminate your employee, the cause is very important. Firing someone for the wrong reason could result in a wrongful termination lawsuit. In this article, we will lay out the definition of wrongful termination as well as the exceptions to the rule. With this knowledge, hopefully you can avoid such a scenario.
Wrongful Termination Lawsuits in California
While California is an “at will” employment state, there are situations that supersede this rule. If an employee has a contract, they may be protected from being fired “without cause.” This means that the termination must be justified under the terms of their contract. The employment contract may also require the employer to give notice or warning to the employee, giving them a chance to correct their behavior.
The other exception to an “at will” dismissal is when it violates state or federal law. These are some common reasons that people may be unlawfully terminated:
Discrimination – An employee may not be terminated because of their race, ancestry, religion, handicap, gender, age, pregnancy, sexual orientation, or military service. These are all considered protected groups. This is one of the most common classifications of wrongful terminations.
Retaliation – An employee may not be fired as a result of reporting potentially illegal acts to a supervisor or government agency. You cannot, for example, fire an employee for reporting a coworker who has sexually harassed her.
Medical Leave – California law protects employees who take FMLA, sick leave, serious medical condition leave, maternity leave, or child bonding leave from being fired. However, the leave must be legally sanctioned. In some situations, an employee who takes significant unprotected leave may be lawfully dismissed.