California is an “at-will” state. Generally, this means that an employer may fire you (an employee) at any time and for any lawful reason. However, an employer may not fire you for an unlawful reason. Examples of an “unlawful reason” can be the employer’s breach of an employment contract, violation of good faith and fair dealing, or termination that violates a public policy.
If you were recently fired and you believe that you were fired unlawfully, contact Abogato today to speak with an attorney. We will listen to your situation and let you know how we can help.
WHEN DOES AN EMPLOYER BREACH AN EMPLOYMENT CONTRACT?
A contract is essentially a set of promises that the parties make to each other. The parties should be able to depend on the performance of these promises.
If an employer promises, through written or spoken words or conduct, that you may only be fired for “good cause” but actually fires you for a reason that is not defined as “good cause”, then the employer broke its promise. You may have a legal claim against the employer for this reason.
Similarly, if an employer promises that you will remain employed for a certain time but fires you before that time, then you may have a legal claim against your employer.
WHAT IS “GOOD FAITH AND FAIR DEALING?”
Both you and your employer have a responsibility not to do anything that keeps the other from receiving any benefits of your employment agreement. It is implied that both you and your employer are acting in an honest and fair way. Essentially, if you or your employer promise to do something, you should mean it.
If your employer fires you in order to keep you from receiving any benefits under an agreement or doesn’t keep its promise to you, you may have a legal claim against your employer.
WHEN DOES AN EMPLOYER VIOLATE “PUBLIC POLICY?”
It is unlawful for an employer to fire you, demote you, or punish you for any reason that violates public policy. In general, “public policy” means a policy that supports the greater good of the state, not the individual. For example, an employer cannot fire you, demote you, or punish you for:
- Refusing to violate a law;
- Performing an act that is required under the law;
- Exercising a right or privilege under the law; or
- Reporting a violation of a law of “public importance.”
All of these are examples of policies that serve the greater good.
To better illustrate this point, if your supervisor is stealing from the cash register, you report his actions, and you get fired for making that report, then your employer violated public policy. It is in the state’s best interests not to have supervisors stealing money from cash registers. Reporting such behavior should be allowed and protected.
Similarly, if you get fired because of your race, sex, sexual orientation, or other protected class, you may have a wrongful termination claim against your employer.
IF YOU BELIEVE THAT YOU WERE WRONGFULLY TERMINATED, TALK TO AN ATTORNEY RIGHT AWAY
If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated contact Abogato, LLP to speak to one of our attorneys and find out how we can help. It doesn’t matter what part of California you are in, we work with lawyers who represent clients throughout the state. Call us today to speak with a lawyer.
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