Wrongful termination lawsuits are based on one of two general theories. Either the employer fired the employee in breach of the terms of an employment agreement which limits the ability to terminate the employee at will or the motivating reason for the termination was one which is prohibited by law.
If you believe this employer fired you in breach of an employment agreement you had with it or you believe the real reason you were fired was unlawful, you should discuss the facts with experienced employment law counsel in your area, for a more informed legal opinion.
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.
I'd agree with the first answer. Just because your employer's reason for termination is phony does not mean that you necessarily have a case for wrongful termination.
As with any employment law question, you should consult with an experienced California employment attorney regarding the specific facts of your case.
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 increase your workload because of your race, sex, national origin, religion, etc., because you blew the whistle on safety violations, because sat for jury duty, or for any other reason that the law protects.
One of the most widely-known areas of public policy includes statutes prohibiting discrimination against people in specific protected groups, which include sex, race, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, age (40 years and older), religion, marital status and pregnancy.
In this context, “discrimination” means to treat differently from others who are not in the same protected group, but are similarly situated. “Discrimination” does not mean an employer has to be fair, or has to make good decisions.
In California, a person complaining of discrimination must file a claim with an administrative agency before he or she can file a lawsuit. The person can file a claim with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within on year of the discriminatory act, or with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the discriminatory act.
As mentioned above, public policy also protects people who blow the whistle on a matter of public concern, complain about improper wage and hour practices, or who exercise voting rights, family leave rights, jury duty rights, domestic violence rights, and a few more statutes. There are various ways to enforce these rights.
If you believe you have been fired or retaliated against in violation of public policy, I urge you to consult with one or more experienced employment law attorneys. To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is www.cela.org, and you can search for attorneys by location and practice area. Many CELA attorneys represent clients throughout the state.
twitter.com/MikaSpencer *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***
Your real problem here is that your employer might use "job abandonment" as an excuse to say that you should be disqualified from unemployment insurance benefits because of misconduct. You need to present every piece of evidence you have to the EDD if your employer takes this position. You would probably want to contact an employment attorney conversant with filing EDD appeals if this happens to you. Good luck.