Skip to main content

CA Employment Termination and Workplace Retaliation

What You Need to Know: Employment Termination in CA

Most workers with a family, a mortgage or other obligations prefer “permanent" employment to contract or temporary employment because of the security it provides. This is ironic, though, because employers can dismiss even “permanent" employees at any time and without cause. Employers' right to fire employees transcends reasons pertaining to employee competency and employer finances and means that all of the following scenarios are legal in California in most instances:

  • Termination due to an issue as simple as a single dress code violation
  • Termination because an owner or manager doesn't “like" an employee
  • Instant termination without any reason provided whatsoever

Though employees enjoy few rights regarding random, sudden and even vindictive termination, they do possess numerous and strong rights regarding employment discrimination. Specifically, employees in California are protected from discrimination due to:

  • Race, national origin and religion
  • Disability
  • Gender (including pregnancy status and issues relating to childbirth and pregnancy-related medical conditions)
  • Age

Employees' Legal Protections Don't Just Apply to Termination

In regard to discrimination, limits to employers' freedom don't stop at employee firings. In regard to discrimination, California's employers must also follow strict laws regarding Employee promotions and demotions, employee pay, including overtime pay and employee classification, i.e. exempt vs. non exempt and retaliation.

This means that employees cannot fail to promote an individual due to his or her race, gender or other protected status. It also means that, for instance, employers must take care not to “group" individuals of similar race or ethnicity, then fail to pay them overtime (a common occurrence of this type of violation is the unequal treatment of immigrant restaurant and warehouse workers and other unskilled workers).

Workplace Retaliation Law in California: Additionally, employers are forbidden to retaliate against individuals who report a potential instance of employment discrimination by withholding a promotion or demoting or terminating the individual.

What to Do If You Suspect You or Another Were the Victim of Employment Discrimination

By definition, employment discrimination involves loss. The loss of a job. The loss of advancement or status. The loss of pay. Federal and state employment laws are designed in part to assist the victims of employment discrimination to obtain a fair outcome as well as financial compensation for their loss. These can be provided in the form of:

  • Job reinstatement (including fully reinstated seniority)
  • Back pay for lost wages and benefits
  • Compensatory damages for out-of-pocket losses, future losses and mental anguish
  • Punitive damages if it can be demonstrated that an employer acted out of malice or reckless indifference
  • Attorneys' fees, court costs and court fees

The first step in a successful employment discrimination lawsuit is the filing of the claim. A formal complaint, known as a “charge of discrimination," must be filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Once this is accomplished, the employee can file an employment discrimination lawsuit in court. The charge of discrimination must be filed within 180 days of the first instance of discrimination or retaliation. To learn more about your legal rights under federal and California State employment laws, contact an experienced Los Angeles County employment law attorney at the Law Office of Jacob I. Kiani.

Additional resources provided by the author

General Labor Law Resources

California Labor Laws and Regulations
U.S. Department of Labor
California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board (CUIAB)
California Dept. of Industrial Relations - Labor Law Resources
Find out which wage order pertains to my occupation
Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC) Wage Orders
Wage & Hour Law - Wage Claim Adjudication
Labor Law FAQ
How to File a Wage Claim
Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE)
California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR)
California Employment Development Department (EDD)
DIR Small Business Portal
Employment Law Fact Sheets
Wage and Hour Law Resources
DFEH Employment Brochures and Posters
Employment FAQ
California Department of Employment and Housing (DFEH)
Fair Housing FAQ
DLSE Guide to Retaliation / Discrimination Complaints
List of California Workplace Postings
Services and Public Accommodations FAQ
DFEH Employment Lawsuit Flow Chart
Fair Employment and Housing - Sexual Harassment
Fair Employment and Housing Act - Pregnancy
California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
Fair Employment and Housing Act

Employment Discrimination Law

EEOC Discrimination Links
Discrimination Links
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
The Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA)
EEOC Prohibited Employment Policies/Practices
EEOC Regulations
EEOC Policy Guidance

Disability Discrimination Law

EEOC Disability Discrimination
Selected Policy Documents on the ADA
Reasonable Accommodation / Undue Hardship Under the ADA
Facts About the Americans with Disabilities Act
The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Link to text of The Rehabilitation Act of 1973
Link to text of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Pregnancy Disability Law

Fair Employment and Housing Act - Pregnancy
Pregnancy Leave Law under FEHA
Pregnancy Disability Discrimination Law - EEOC
Pregnancy Disability Leave in California: What Should Employers Expect?
Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code sections 12940, et. seq.
FMLA / CFRA Law with Information on Pregnancy Disability Leave Law Included

Practice Groups

Labor & Employment Law
Business Law & Litigation
Technology Law
Human Resources Law
Unbundled Legal Services

Rate this guide

Recommended articles about Employment

Can’t find what you’re looking for?

Post a free question on our public forum.

Ask a Question

- or -

Search for lawyers by reviews and ratings.

Find a Lawyer