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When is the termination of an employee wrongful?


The majority of workers in San Diego, California and across the country are considered at-will employees. When an employee is at-will, their organization may terminate them at any time and for any reason, as long as the reasoning is not in retaliation for any of the employee's actions, discriminatory in nature or illegal. Both employers and employees rightfully wonder then, what type of termination is considered wrongful?

An employee's dismissal can be considered a wrongful termination for many reasons, including if it is discriminatory. An employer may not get rid of an employee if they fall within a protected class such as their disability, age, religion or gender, among other reasons. This includes pregnancy for female employees, as well as sexual orientation in many states. Employers are also prevented from dismissing employees for retaliatory reasons. If an employee asserts their lawful or anti-discriminatory rights, an employer may not fire them based on that assertion. Additionally, if an employee reports an OSHA violation in good faith due to the employer's alleged failure to meet appropriate safety standards, the employer may not terminate the employee as a result.

In addition to the reasons detailed above, many states also find an employee's termination wrongful if it is in violation of public policy. Such a violation is present if an employee is let go for reasons that the public would disagree with from a moral or ethical standpoint. Among such reasons are an employee's refusal to commit a crime when instructed to do so by their employer, an employee's complaints about the illegal actions of their employer, or the employee's application of their lawful rights. Finally, employers may not remove employees for declining to submit to a lie detector test or based on their immigration status.

Employees in San Diego, although they may be an at-will employee, are still protected by many rights regarding their employment status. It is difficult for employees and employers alike to understand when a termination is allowed or wrongful. An employee that feels that their termination may have been wrongful may seek the assistance of an employment law attorney to help them assert their rights.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Wrongful Termination Laws: Illegal Reasons," last accessed Nov. 10, 2014

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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