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California woman fired for asking yoga students not to use phones

The recent firing of a yoga instructor in California might have many employees wondering whether the woman can take legal action and file a wrongful termination lawsuit.

According to reports, the woman was fired because she had asked her students not to use their cellphones during her yoga classes. Yoga requires intense concentration and many folks practice yoga to maintain their mental and physical health. Any distractions could ruin the experience for others. But during one class in June, a student was caught looking at her cellphone and the instructor gave the student a "look of disapproval." Two weeks after the incident, the instructor was fired for not providing quality customer service.

Although many workers in Los Angeles and throughout the entire state of California might assume that the woman's employer had no reason to fire her, the employer might not have violated any employment laws when firing the yoga instructor.

Employment contracts in California are typically considered "at will." When an employment contract is "at will," an employer can legally fire an employee for no reason. However, an employer is in violation of state and federal labor and employment laws when workers are fired because of their age, race, disability, sex, religion and national origin.

Additionally, employers cannot fire employees as a means of retaliation. For instance, an employee cannot be fired for raising concerns about unsafe or unhealthy working conditions, for joining a union, or for filing a workplace injury claim.

There many circumstances in which employers might be guilty of violating labor and employment laws when firing employees. For this reason, workers who have been terminated under questionable circumstances may want to consider working with an attorney in order to learn more about their rights and whether their rights were violated in the workplace.

Source: The Oakland Tribune, "San Carlos yoga teacher loses job after glaring at Facebook employee for using cellphone in class," Bonnie Eslinger, July 11, 2012

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