Wrongful Termination Defense
An employer sometimes has no choice but to let an employee go. In California, which follows at-will employment laws, employers can terminate employees at any time and for any lawful reason.
However, an employee may feel that their termination was illegal or “wrongful.” This situation can result in a wrongful termination lawsuit filed against you, as an employer, and could mean months or years of costly and protracted litigation that takes a toll on your company’s reputation and profits.
If an employee filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against you, you need to understand what steps to take to defend your business. Our employment law attorneys at the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston are dedicated to protecting both employees and employers from unnecessary litigation and guiding you through the negotiation process. From our office in Temecula, California, we serve businesses throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, and Riverside counties.
What Is Wrongful Termination?
Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is laid off or fired for an unlawful or improper reason. When this happens, an employee can sue their employer while demonstrating evidence that they were terminated due to an illegal reason, such as discrimination, retaliation, violation of public policy, or breach of a written/implied promise, among other reasons.
In wrongful termination cases, the burden of proof is on the employee. The employee must prove that:
The termination of their employment was wrongful; and
They suffered damages as a result.
As an employer, you do not have to prove that you had a legal basis for terminating your employee because most employees in the state of California are considered “at-will” employees. However, if a lawsuit against your business is filed, you should start preparing any documentation available to prove that the employee was fired for a lawful, non-discriminatory, and non-retaliatory reason.
When Is It Wrongful to Terminate an Employee?
California has some of the toughest employee protection laws in the United States. As an employer, you should understand these protections and ensure that you do not violate federal or state laws when letting your employees go.
It is wrongful termination when an employee is terminated for an unlawful reason. Some of the most common unlawful reasons to terminate an employee include:
Discrimination. If an employee is fired on the basis of their protected characteristics, the employee can file a discrimination-based wrongful termination lawsuit. Under California law, protected characteristics include color, race, religion, creed, sex, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, age (over 40), ancestry, national origin, disability, medical condition, genetic information, and military/veteran status.
Retaliation. It is illegal for employers to terminate employees as retaliation for engaging in lawfully protected activities, including but not limited to filing a workers’ compensation claim, requesting disability accommodations, reporting hazardous working conditions, and complaining about wage-and-hour violations.
Public policy violation. When an employee is fired for refusing to comply with their employer’s request to break the law, they are wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy.
Written promises. If there is a written contract or an offer letter that contains promises about continued employment, the employee may not be considered an at-will employee. If an employee feels that their firing was a breach of the written promises provided by the employer, they can file a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Implied promises. When an employer says or does something that implies that employment is continued, the employee may argue that they work under an implied employment contract. As a result, an employee may file a wrongful termination lawsuit if they believe there was a breach of the implied promises provided by the employer.
Whistleblowing. An employee is considered a “whistleblower” when they report a potential violation of the law by their employer. If the employee is fired for whistleblowing, they may have grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
Constructive discharge. Constructive discharge is a term used to describe a situation when an employee is forced to resign or quit their job because the working conditions had become aggravated or intolerable. So, even though it is the employee’s decision to quit, they may still be able to sue their employer if they can prove constructive discharge.
If you are considering letting an employee go or are being sued by an employee for wrongful termination, you should consult an experienced employment law attorney.
How a Wrongful Termination Defense Attorney Can Help
The Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston provides comprehensive legal counsel to help defend employers and businesses throughout Southern California against wrongful termination claims. Our attorneys work with companies to help them develop effective management practices to avoid such claims in the first place. Effective management practices may include:
creating carefully worded policies
drafting employee handbooks
conducting compliance reviews
human resources and supervisory training
keeping documentation of everything
following the policies that have been established
If an employee files a wrongful termination lawsuit, our attorneys can defend your company by resolving the matter effectively to minimize financial losses and reputational harm. We are here to stand up for your company’s rights and develop a defense strategy tailored to your specific case.
Get Strong Legal Representation
As with any business decision, you should take your time to understand the potential consequences before firing an employee. Our employment law attorneys at the Law Offices of Charles P. Boylston can provide you with the guidance you need when terminating an employee or facing a wrongful termination lawsuit.
We have successfully represented employees and employers in wrongful termination claims in Temecula, California, and throughout Southern California. To put our experience and insight in your corner, contact our office to discuss your situation and get legal representation.