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Was I wrongfully terminated from my job?

Getting let go from any job is frustrating. Whether you anticipated being terminated or it came as a complete shock, the reality of now being unemployed can be worrisome.

However, if the circumstances surrounding your termination seem illegal or unethical, it may be worth considering whether they were. You may have a right to take legal action to hold your former employer accountable.

At-will employment and wrongful termination in California

California is an at-will employment state. At-will employment indicates that employment relationships are subject to end at any time for any reason. Because of this, it can seem like there are no options for recently fired employees.

However, wrongful termination is an exception to at-will employment relationships. There are rules that employers must abide by when it comes to terminating employees. You may consider legal action if there was a violation of these rules or public policies.

How to know if you were wrongfully terminated

There are certain situations in which terminated employees may have a strong case to pursue, including if:

  • You were fired due to discrimination or harassment directed at you
  • You were fired after exposing illegal or hazardous activities within the company
  • You were fired after refusing to complete an illegal act upon request
  • You were fired in direct violation of company or public policy

You may believe the terms of your termination were clearly illegal. However, it can be challenging to prove a pattern of discrimination or that your termination was in direct violation of whistleblower protections.

What you can do following a termination

Following a potentially wrongful termination, document what you can about the entire situation. Preserve any applicable communications and retain a copy of your company’s handbook if possible. Additionally, keep the situation as quiet and discrete as you can. It may be tempting to discuss the situation with as many as you can or to disclose it on social media. Refraining from doing this can help if you decide to pursue legal action.

Lastly, consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney can review the facts of your case, your employment record and the details of your termination to uncover whether you have a realistic case against your former employer.

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