In California and much of the United States, most people are at-will employees, meaning your employer can fire you without warning, notice, or reason. So, for example, the company can fire you because of poor performance, breach of contract, unprofessionalism, or a myriad of other reasons.
But, companies will often have a standard process for termination, and an employment contract may state that the employer needs to give notice before termination. This creates fewer headaches for the company due to legal reasons and company morale.
But, the law does protect you in some cases, so your employer cannot fire you for any reason. If an employer fires you for one of the following reasons, you may have recourse:
Based on discrimination
Discrimination is illegal based on race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, disability, and other reasons. The Civil Rights Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act can protect you from being fired in some of these cases.
Terrible work situations
Also, it is illegal to fire an employee because you were a whistleblower, sexually harassed, or endured a hostile work environment.
Other unlawful reasons that your employer fires you include:
- Serving on a jury
- Joining a union
- Refusing to perform an illegal act
- Being subjected to constructive discharge
What is my next step?
There are many legal reasons your employer can fire you. So, you should do your due diligence and research more about wrongful termination.
Likely, you will have to file a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission before filing a lawsuit. Your final step should be to seek legal counsel if you think your employer has wrongfully terminated you.