I was recently terminated without any warning and without any specified cause, from a full-time teaching position with a private company, teaching up to 24 weekly enrichment classes at a local elementary school. I sent three formal appeals requesting specifics regarding the grievances against me, to my regional company manager, to the company CEO and founder, and to the school principal. Each person responsible refused to speak with me in writing or give me any kind of reason for my termination. The company potentially violated several California Labor Codes, in not classifying me as an employee or independent contractor, not providing a single pay stub or payroll documentation to accompany my direct deposits after repeated requests, and never provided a copy of the Employee Agreement.
The bad news is that based on your post it is unlikely you have a claim of wrongful termination. The good news is it is likely you have other Labor Code violations that might be available to you, assuming you were actually an employee.
Wrongful termination in an at will state is not available simply because the employer fails to give you notice or reasons for termination, or even gives you reasons that you disagree with. Wrongful termination is a legal theory that applies only if you can prove you were terminated in violation of the law. It is a term broadly used to describe termination in violation of one of several protective statutes or, alternatively, termination in violation of a fundamental and long-standing public policy of the state.
You suggest possible paystub violations and other Labor Code violations. If you were an employee, these are likely viable claims. However, it is not uncommon for some private educational institutions to accurately characterize some teachers as independent contractors. Far more will need to be known before you can get any solid guidance regarding those claims.
It would be prudent for you to locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to www.cela.org, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.
Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.
Good luck to you.
This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.
If you worked for a private company without a contract, you are likely an "at-will" employee, which means that the employer is not required to have a good reason or even provide you with a reason for your discharge. However, the employer cannot fire you for an unlawful reason. If you were fired for complaining about this employer's violation of labor laws, that could be an unlawful reason.
Rather than go into detail on a public forum like this, you should privately consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys in your area, who can review all of the facts and evidence and offer you an informed opinion about your status as an employee, an assessment of the merits of your claims and what your legal options are.
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 based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.
It doesn't seem like you have valid claim here for wrongful termination, however, it seems that you may have valid wage and hour claims if you were not paid properly or were not classified properly.
A full consultation would be necessary to properly advise you.
At will means an employer can fire you anytime for any reason except an illegal reason. Illegal reasons covers a broad array of things, often being a retaliatory termination for complaining or whistleblowing. It's not illegal to fire an employee for all complaining, unless the complaint has to do with something, e.g., that is codified in statute or is something that is important to society. Another example is complaining about discrimination that is covered by FEHA. In any event, you need to contact an attorney before you can rule out a wrongful termination case.
If you are an "at will employee," the only thing that's going to change that status is a contract articulating a start and ending date for employment. Since you do not have a contract, you are an "employee at will."
Your employer is not duty or legally bound to give you a reason for termination. In fact, you may be terminated with or without cause. Furthermore, you are not legally entitled to have advanced notice of termination.
You may have some wage and hour violations that may be pursued, but there are not enough facts to give you a glowing answer or opinion. I would suggest you speak to an attorney that is versed in wage and hour litigation. Most of us offer a no cost consultation.
Scott Miller, Attorney
By virtue of the answers provided through AVVO, no attorney client relationship shall exist from any of the information provided by Scott Miller, or the Law Offices of Scott A. Miller, A Professional Corporation, nor any of its attorneys.or staff. A relationship regarding you and the Law Offices Of Scott A. Miller may only be obtained by way of an executed retainer and meeting with this law office.
Our Rating is calculated using information the lawyer has included on their profile in addition to the information we collect from state bar associations and other organizations that license legal professionals. Attorneys who claim their profiles and provide Avvo with more information tend to have a higher rating than those who do not.What determines Avvo Rating?Experience & background
Years licensed, work experience, educationLegal community recognition
Peer endorsements, associations, awardsLegal thought leadership
Publications, speaking engagementsDiscipline