Nothing in the facts that you have summarized here suggests a sound claim for wrongful termination against your employer. The employer has the right to evolve in its business, change its methods, and to cease reliance on the data that you were working on. The fact that the decision may have been motivated by personal animus against another employee does not diminish this employer right.
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I know of no general principle of law that your firing offends. Please note that the question of whether a termination was unfair is quite different from the question whether the termination was unlawful. What you describe seems quite unfair, but I can discern nothing in the facts you describe that would make it unlawful.
Not legal advice, just my two cents. I neither practice law in California nor hold California licensure. Consult a lawyer in person to obtain legal advice based on all the facts and circumstances. I practice in Vermont ONLY.
As the two previous responses mentioned, your facts do not suggest any unlawful act on the part of the employer. 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: http://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/an-overview-of-at-will-employment-all-states. 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.
You specifically asked about wrongful termination. When people talk about “wrongful termination,” they are really talking about wrongful termination in violation of public policy. For a termination to be “wrongful,” it must violate a public policy.
Public policy refers only to things that are specifically prohibited by a statute (law) enacted by the legislature, or prohibited by a regulation promulgated (established) by a government agency. An employer cannot change terms of employment or fire you if the reason for the change is against the law. For example, an employer cannot treat you differently or fire you because of your sex, race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status or pregnancy; because you blew the whistle on safety violations; because you complained about improper wage and hour practices; because you exercised voting rights, family leave rights, jury duty rights, or domestic violence rights; or for any other reason prohibited by law.
It is not enough to be within a legally protected group. You must be able to show there is a strong connection between the public policy and the termination. For example, if an employee yelled at the boss and requested family leave during the same week, then was fired the following week, the employee must be able to show she was fired because of her request for family leave and not because she yelled at the boss. There are various ways to make this showing, depending on the facts.
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.
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