Smart Ideas: Policies Revisited

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Understanding California Employment Laws

California workers that are categorized as “at will” employees may find themselves in danger of being terminated from their workplace for virtually any reason even when it is an unjust one or for no reason at all. Usually, an employee who has been working for an organization for less than five years and doesn’t have an employment contract could be considered an “at will” employee under the California employment laws.

To successfully file a wrongful termination claim, the termination must have violated some fundamental right. Simply put, this means that some federal statute or state regulation or constitutional provision should have already been broken by the termination. For instance, when the employer orders an employee to do something which is against the law, regulation, ordinance or statute, the company cannot lawfully fire that worker for refusing to do such a thing. One may pursue this in cases such as when an employee complains about what they believe is a violation of the law including failure to pay overtime, late payment of wages or workplace safety problems and is fired because of this.

Another violation that would lead to a wrongful termination claim comes up when the employee’s true reason for letting go of the worker is based on the employee’s gender, age, disability, religion or national origin. Even though such discriminations are under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, they may also lead to a common law claim as they may be in breach of the public policy. Likewise, this also is true for termination made in retaliation for a worker’s opposition to or complaints about harassment or discrimination on any of the protected classifications listed above. Consider the case when an employee complains about sexual harassment and is criticized at work because of it, disciplined or fired. In this instance, they would possess a claim for retaliation under the Fair Employment and Housing Act and also under common law.

Other terminations might be illegal as they’ve been prohibited under different laws. Some of these include the firing of employees based on sexual orientation or those that take maternity or medical leave. Employees who need to take leave as a result of a serious medical condition or must care for a parent or a child that has such a condition, are protected under what the law states. The protection under law applies if they have worked for the company for more than a year or more than 1250 hours during the previous year or the organization has more than 50 workers within a seventy-five-mile radius. State and Federal laws are enacted to protect workers against wrongful termination. Normally, these laws prohibit termination predicated on race, age, gender, nationality, religion, and handicap.
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