Do I have a valid wrongful termination claim?

Asked over 1 year ago - San Diego, CA

I had been at this company for 4 yrs 4 months and over a year and a half at my current position. I was terminated a little over a week ago for "having merchandise in my stockroom" this was Christmas merchandise I had planned to buy but forgot about. The items were found by my boss on Jan 30. Feb 2nd I was written up for "performance related issues". Not a word about The items. A week or so later I was requested to write a statement about The items. Then Feb. 22 I was terminated. First offense. Great work record. No verbal or written warning just straight to termination. Help please. Also 2other employees were caught for the same offense and were only written up.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Michael Robert Kirschbaum

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . It sounds really harsh. But it is probably not a wrongful termination. Most employees are presumed to be "at-will" employees, as a matter of law. If you are an at-will employee the employer does not even need a good reason to fire you. It can fire you for any reason as long as the motivating reason is not an unlawful one. Which begs the question, why do you believe you were really fired?

    If it is because of the merchandise you planned to buy but forgot about, you have no case, even if the employer did not fire someone else for doing the same thing, unless unlawful factors were considered, such as race, national origin, gender, or some other protected characteristic. If you do believe there was some form of unlawful discrimination involved, you should review your belief with experienced employment law counsel in your area.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion... more
  2. Neil Pedersen

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees


    Answered . Mr. Kirschbaum is correct. You do not state a claim for wrongful termination. You can be terminated for any reason, or even no reason, as long as it is not an unlawful reason. An unlawful reason would be if you were terminated because you were a member of a protected class of people or because you had engaged in protected conduct. The facts you state do not fall into either of these categories.

    There is no duty for an employer to treat you exactly the same as other employees who engaged in the same conduct, unless the reason for that different treatment is unlawful (protected class/protected conduct). Furthermore, there is no duty for an employer to give notice, or any particular kind of notice before terminating.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed... more
  3. Marilynn Mika Spencer

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Unfortunately, employees and job applicants have very few employment rights, and employers have a lot of leeway in how they choose to run their businesses. In general, an employer can be unfair, obnoxious or bad at management. And an employer can make decisions based on faulty or inaccurate information. An employer has no obligation to warn an employee that he or she is not performing as the employer wants. It’s not a level playing field. An employer hires employees to provide work for its benefit, not for the benefit of the employees. Don't expect the employer to take care of its employees; it doesn’t have to and it rarely does.

    There are some limitations on what an employer can do, mostly in the areas of public policy (such as discrimination law or whistle blowing), contract law, union-employer labor relations, and constitutional due process for government employees. Please see my guide to at-will employment in California which should help you understand employment rights: After you take a look at the guide, you may be able to identify actions or behavior that fits one of the categories that allows for legal action. If so, an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney may be helpful.

    Employment rights come from the state and federal legislatures. One of the best things people can do to improve their employment rights is vote for candidates with a good record on pro-employee, anti-corporate legislation. Another way to protect employment rights is to form or affiliate with a union, or participate in a union already in place.

    I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best. *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the... more

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