LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Jacob Iraj Kiani

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

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