What constitutes wrongful termination?

On behalf of Sullivan Law Group APC posted in employee rights on Sunday, June 3, 2018.

One’s place of work is not solely a place to grow financially; it is a setting in which one should feel safe and respected. Because one’s success in a career often hinges on his or her opportunity to grow both personally and professionally, it is crucial that a work environment helps facilitate all employees — not a select few. When a California employee is fired on suspicious grounds, legal action may be the next step. What, exactly, constitutes wrongful termination? 

As career resource The Muse explains, some actions at work that result in termination are simply illegal. For example, if an employer overhears an employee discussing workplace issues with peers, they cannot fire that employee for engaging in protected concerted activity. The Muse also mentions discrimination and retaliation, both of which violate employment laws. Employers cannot fire workers based on their race, gender, sexual orientation or citizenship status; in addition, employers cannot fire women for being pregnant. Firing an employee for reasons related to medical history also constitutes wrongful termination.

While state laws may vary, they can operate similarly when it comes to employment laws. The State of California Department of Industrial Relations refers all employees facing wrongful termination to the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. While there are many different activities that are protected under the DLSE, the department stresses that time can be sensitive in these situations. Employees generally must file a complaint within six months of the wrongful act. The department mentions, however, that Labor Code Sections allow for longer time periods to file a complaint. Because each case is unique, employees may look to further resources provided by the state department in order to address the issue, as well as to reclaim respect within the workplace.