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Understanding Illegal Reasons for Termination in California

At Nassiri Law, led by attorney Damian Nassiri, we are committed to defending the rights of employees who have been wrongfully terminated. Understanding the illegal reasons for termination under California law is crucial in identifying and combating wrongful termination. Here are some frequently asked questions to help you understand your rights.

What Constitutes Wrongful Termination Under California Law?

Most wrongful termination cases are brought by employees who have been fired or laid off due to discrimination, harassment, and/or retaliation. Various federal and state laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Title II of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008, render discrimination based on the following characteristics unlawful in the workplace:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Ethnicity
  • Gender
  • Genetic Information
  • Pregnancy
  • Race
  • Religion
  • National Origin
  • Sex (Sexual harassment is illegal as a result of this classification)
  • Sexual Orientation
What Is Employer Retaliation and Is It Illegal?

Employer retaliation is the act of punishing an employee for engaging in a legally protected act. Retaliation may be as subtle as a job title change and as blatant as wrongful termination. The False Claims Act, all of the discrimination laws noted above, the Family Medical Leave Act, and a variety of federal, state, and local laws make retaliation illegal.

What Are Some Examples of Legally Protected Acts?

Legally protected acts include, but are not limited to:

  • Activities related to status as a crime victim
  • Caring for a newborn or newly adopted child
  • Caring for an ill loved one
  • Disability
  • Jury duty
  • Managing a serious personal health condition
  • Maternity leave
  • Military service
  • Participating in a substance treatment program
  • Providing testimony as a witness
  • Recovering from an injurious accident
  • Recovering from bone marrow or organ donation
  • Service as a volunteer first responder or reservist
  • Voting
Can an Employer Terminate an "At-Will" Employee for any Reason?

While many employers utilize “at-will” employment, meaning that they can let employees go at any time, at-will policies do not remove the employer’s responsibility to act legally. Under both California state laws and federal laws, employers cannot terminate employees who:

  • File a claim for workers’ compensation
  • Take legally protected time off such as time for jury duty, medical or family leave, or time for military service
  • File a discrimination claim with HR or state or federal authorities
  • Refuse requests for sexual, financial, or personal favors in exchange for a promotion or raise
  • Refuse to engage in illegal activities of any kind
  • Join a union and participate in union activities
  • Notify government agencies or proper authorities of potential workplace safety hazards that have been ignored
  • Report suspected illegal activities on the part of a co-worker, manager, or the company itself to the proper authorities (whistleblowing)
What Should I Do if I Believe I Have Been Wrongfully Terminated?

If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, contact Nassiri Law today at 949-375-4734 for a consultation. We can guide you through the process of filing a claim with the proper agency, such as the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) or OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), or filing a civil lawsuit in court. We're here to listen, support, and fight for your rights.

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