Can My Employer Fire Me For No Reason In California?
California is an at-will employment state, which means you are employed at the will of your employer, and can be fired essentially at any time for any reason, and, by the same token, that you can quit working for your employer at any time for any reason. But it’s never that black and white is it? If you have been terminated on a basis that you believe is unfair, you may have legal grounds on which to sue your employer. That’s because, while California is an at-will employment state, there are exceptions to the reasons your employer can fire you for. While it is legal to fire you for no reason, it is not legal to fire you for a reason that is linked to or based on a protected status. In other words, it’s legal to fire an employee for no reason, or legal reasons, but never for illegal reasons. That’s a loaded sentence, so let’s unpack that more below.
Illegal Grounds for Termination in California
Were you fired for no reason or were you fired because of your race, gender, ethnicity, or some other protected characteristic? Under state and federal law, certain protections exist that surpass even an employer’s right to fire employees at will. As noted above, you cannot be fired for any reason that is connected to a protected status. These state and federal laws define certain characteristics, such as sexual orientation, gender, religion, ethnicity, national origin, and race, as protected characteristics. To illustrate this, consider a situation in which an employer fires a female employee because she became pregnant. In this case, she would have grounds to sue her employer on the basis of gender-based discrimination, which covers pregnancy-related discrimination. As you can imagine, the difficult thing in these cases is proving that the termination was directly connected to a protected status. In many cases, it’s not too difficult for employers to provide another legal cause for the termination. However, they will have to support this claim with evidence. This may be tricky though, particularly in cases where you are alleging that the employer gave you bad performance ratings due to your protected status. Because this can get complicated, it is always advisable to seek legal advice as soon as possible. You don’t have to wait until you have been fired to consult an attorney if you believe you are being harassed or discriminated against as a result of a protected characteristic or status at work. In fact, the more evidence you have to reflect that this problem was serious enough to seek outside counsel, the stronger your case. The earlier you enlist the help of an attorney, the sooner they can begin helping you to navigate the process and helping you collect the evidence that you need to succeed in court.
Schedule a Consultation with Costanzo Law Group
If you have been illegally terminated or are facing discrimination and harassment in the workplace, the experienced San Jose employment law attorneys at Costanzo Law Group are ready to help. Contact Costanzo Law Group today to schedule your personalized consultation and find out how we can help you.