“You’re fired!”

These words can be very devastating to an employee.  When an employee is terminated from his job, he suddenly loses a regular source of income.  In California, under the “at will” doctrine, an employer may terminate an employee for whatever reason as long as that reason is not unlawful.

One such law in California is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) which provides protection for employees against discrimination due to age, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, pregnancy or disability.  In other words, an employee cannot be terminated because of discrimination.

An employer may still “discriminate” against his employee, even if he does not belong to any of the categories mentioned above. This is when the employer terminates an employee as a form of retaliation because the latter reported or attempted to report illegal acts of the company. Such an act constitutes wrongful termination.

Termination because of an employee’s military service is also not allowed under California law.  If a person is employed and is with the armed forces,  such person is entitled to an unlimited number of unpaid leaves. He can be reinstated back to his job if he took a leave for his military service, provided his tour of duty is no more than one year.  When he is reinstated after his tour of duty, his employer must provide him with the same benefits he enjoyed prior his tour of duty.

An employee also cannot be terminated because he or she takes advantage of protected leave under the Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) of 1993.  Under the FMLA, employees are entitled to different levels of benefits depending on the size of their company.  For example, employers with as few as five employees must provide qualified workers with pregnancy leave.  On the other hand, an employer with 25 or more people in his staff must provide leave to his employees for sexual assault, domestic violence, or to participate in school activities of their children.  Employers with 50 or more personnel must provide qualified personnel with domestic partner leave.

If an employee believes he was wrongfully dismissed from his work, then he should consult a lawyer who specializes in employment law.  The attorney may gather evidence that may lead to uncover the real reason for the termination and enable the employee to take legal action.

Fresno Branch:
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Suite 102
Fresno, CA 93711
T: (559) 431-4888
F: (559) 821-4500

San Diego Branch:
10509 Vista Sorrento Pkwy., Suite 430
San Diego, CA 92121
T: (619) 399-7700
F: (619) 819-8400

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