Wrongful termination can cost companies millions in damages. Case in point: A State College-based building company has been ordered to pay $2.2 million in damages due to a wrongful termination lawsuit. A former employee is reported to have been injured on the job in 2016. The employee did file for worker’s compensation and was placed on physical restrictions by their doctor. However, after the employee could not report to work due to her injury, the company made the decision to fire her based on insubordination. They would later lose the wrongful termination case filed against them for this decision.
What is Wrongful Termination?
Not every termination can be considered wrongful. In California, employees without a signed contract with their employer or have worked for the company for less than five years can be fired at will. Many of these unfair firings are legal under California law so make sure you have a wrongful termination case before proceeding forward. Wrongful termination is defined as being fired for an illegal reason. Illegal reasons include:
- Race or Ethnic Background
It is also illegal for an employer to fire an employee who filed a complaint against them or reported their wrongdoing. This includes reporting discrimination or sexual harassment. It is also illegal to fire an employee for taking permitted medical leave. If an employee was fired for these reasons, the employer participated in retaliation which is illegal and grounds for a wrongful termination lawsuit.
There can be some confusion, however, when it comes to “at will” employment. When an employee is hired as “at will”, this means the employer can fire them without having a good reason and without advanced warning. However, even at will employers can run into trouble. At will employers cannot fire employees for discriminatory reasons nor can they fire employees who report illegal activities. To do so would fall under the category of wrongful termination.
If you have been terminated because of discrimination or retaliation, you may be able to pursue legal action against your employer. You may be entitled to damages for lost wages and attorneys’ fees. Contact an experienced wrongful termination attorney at CounselOne today.