You have just been dismissed from your work effective immediately.  You will be unemployed the next day and you have a family to support. Would you consider suing your employer in court?  You may want to see an employment attorney in San Diego before you do.

California adheres to “at will” form of employment in situations wherein there is no contract.    In such a relationship, an employer can dismiss someone for any reason, except for discrimination based on gender, age, religion or forms of harassment such as firing a person known to be a “whistleblower.” Thus, in California, wrongful termination is generally hard to prove. In most cases, wrongful termination can only be proven when an employee signed a contract as a member of a union or he himself went into a contract with his employer.

Outside of a union contract or a written employer-employee contract, you can still have a case against your employer. Note that the “at will” relationship can be altered either verbally or through company practice.  A good example of this is an employee handbook with a progressive discipline policy where a verbal or written reprimand is given on the initial offenses.  You can argue that you were illegally dismissed if you can prove that the company did not follow its own handbook.  In other words, the company terminated you if a verbal reprimand was the stated applicable sanction.

Another case in which the “at will” relationship may be said to be modified is when your employer assures you (even verbally) of continued employment.  Thus, you may be expecting to enjoy continuous employment for a period of time. In such a case, you can ask   your employer to establish “good cause” as reason for your termination.

The concept of “good cause” means that the employer dismissed his staff based on “fair and honest reasons.”   It must be done in good faith and must not be trivial, arbitrary or executed on the mere whim of the employer.  The reason must be established as an offense which can affect the operations of the company.

With the above examples, you may have your case.  But you still need to have evidence.  The strength of a case of wrongful termination hinges on hard documents that you have. If you wish to file a case of wrongful termination, you must keep copies of   your employment letters, company handbooks, and performance reports so that an employment attorney can give an appraisal as to the merits of your case. In San Diego, such an employment attorney can assist you.

Yes, even with the “at will” relationship, you may still have a case of wrongful termination.  If you believe you were dismissed due to discrimination, harassment or unfair causes, then you may have a case.  For more information call the employment attorneys of WB Law Group.

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