• Dec 11, 2023

Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination in an At-Will State?

Can You Sue for Wrongful Termination in an At-Will State?

Yes, you can potentially sue for wrongful termination even in an “at-will” employment state.

First, let’s recap: an at-will employee is a worker who, in the absence of an employment contract specifying otherwise, an employer can terminate for any reason (or no reason at all), and the employee can leave their job for any reason. California is a state that uses an at-will employment relationship between employers and employees (again, unless specified otherwise).

There are important exceptions to at-will employment. Even in at-will states, employers are not allowed to terminate employees for reasons that violate state law. Types of wrongful termination could include:

  1. Discrimination:
    • It is illegal to terminate an at-will employee based on certain protected characteristics such as race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability, or age (if the employee is over 40). Federal and state anti-discrimination laws enforce anti-discrimination. If an employee believes they were wrongfully terminated for discrimination, they may be able to sue for wrongful termination.
  2. Retaliation:
    • Employers cannot terminate employees in retaliation for exercising their legal rights, such as reporting workplace harassment, illegal activity, filing a workers’ compensation claim, or participating in an investigation. If an employer terminated and employee for retaliation, the employee can begin to build a wrongful termination case with the help of an employment lawyer. The attorneys at Lawyers for Justice, PC are experienced in handling wrongful termination claims.
  3. Breach of Contract:
    • If an employee has an employment contract that specifies the terms of their employment and the conditions under which they can be fired, a breach of that contract may provide grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  4. Whistleblowing:
    • Should an employer fire employees for reporting an illegal act, a violation of laws, or another type of wrongdoing, a wrongful termination lawsuit could be possible. Termination in retaliation for reporting illegal activities is prohibited.

It’s important to consult with an employment attorney to assess the specific circumstances of each termination to determine whether it’s a valid claim for wrongful termination. Employment laws can be complex, and a California employment attorney can provide guidance on the best course of action based on the facts of a case and applicable laws.

California Firing Laws

Because California follows the “at-will” employment rule, employers and employees are free to terminate an employment relationship at any time.

  1. WARN Act Compliance:
    • The federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act and the California WARN Act may require certain employers to provide advance notice of mass layoffs, impacting the timing and process of terminations.
  2. Final Paycheck Laws:
  3. Cal-WARN Act:
    • The California WARN Act may require employers with 75 or more employees to provide 60 days’ notice before mass layoffs, relocations, or terminations due to a plant closure.
  4. Cal/OSHA Protections:
    • California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) protects employees from termination for exercising their rights related to workplace safety.

Employees who believe they experienced wrongful termination should consult with an employment attorney to understand their rights and assess the specific circumstances of their case. The lawyers at LFJ can provide guidance on potential claims and appropriate courses of action based on California firing laws.

Do I Have A Case For Wrongful Termination? – FAQ

can you sue for being fired without notice? If there is an employment contract for a particular period or length of time, or a contract that states “good cause” is needed to fire employees, a worker could sue for breach of contract if they were fired for trivial reasons. An employment lawyer would most likely need to help assist in a circumstance such as this.

how to sue employer for wrongful termination? If an employer fires a worker for an illegal reason, the law is in favor of the former employee. However, working with a lawyer to develop a strong attorney-client relationship could maximize compensation.

can you sue someone for firing you? California employees who are wrongfully terminated may have grounds to file a lawsuit against their employer if the reason for termination violated state laws.

can you sue for getting fired during covid? It could be generally unlawful for an employer to fire a worker because they were exposed to COVID-19. However, each case is different and working with an attorney could help glean a better understanding of a specific case.

how long do i have to sue for wrongful termination? The statute of limitations, or duration available for an employee to sue for wrongful termination in California is either two or three years from the date of their termination, depending on the reason of the firing.

do i have a case for wrongful termination? If you live in an at-will state and think you may have a wrongful discharge case, call (818) JUSTICE for more information.

can you sue a company for firing you for no reason? In an at-will state, a company can fire employees without reason, as long as it’s not an illegal reason.

reasons to sue for wrongful termination? Discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, and whistleblowing are common reasons to sue for discrimination.

how to sue for wrongful termination? Getting the professional advice from an employment attorney can be helpful and they can help develop a strategy on how to bring about a successful wrongful termination lawsuit.

can i sue for being fired without warning? In an at-will state, it is legal for an employer to fire an employee without warning, as long as it does not violate any laws, nor violate an employment contract.


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