Whether your termination came as a shock or you have sensed it was coming for some time, you may be dealing with many questions and emotions. It is normal to feel angry and insulted, perhaps even wronged when you lose a job. Getting fired can seem like a very personal matter.
In many cases, it is not personal at all. Since California and most other states are at-will, it is possible for anyone to lose a job at any time unless he or she has a contract with strong language preventing termination without notice. Changes in a company’s financial situation, the decision to take a business in a new direction or your own poor performance may be reason enough to let you go. However, you may feel your termination crossed the line.
What does wrongful termination look like?
While it is true that your employer can fire you for no reason, it is also true that the law prohibits your employer from firing you for certain reasons. Termination for factors protected by the Civil Rights Act is against the law, and your employer can face serious legal ramifications for doing so. Your employer may be guilty of wrongful termination if any of the following factored into the decision to let you go:
- You are age 40 or older.
- You have recently announced that you are pregnant or have applied for time off under the Family Medical Leave Act.
- You are affiliated with a certain religious faith, and your practice of that faith does not interfere with your performance of the essential duties of the job.
- You have a disability that does not prevent you from performing your tasks, or you have requested reasonable accommodations to complete the non-essential parts of your job.
- You belong to a specific race or ethnic group against which your employer has prejudices.
- Your employer has specific feelings against people of your gender, gender identity or sexual orientation.
Of course, your employer will likely never admit that there were