California is known as an "at will" employment state. This means that there are very few set term contracts and people do not have absolute guarantees that they will have their job for set period of time. It also means that people can be fired for unfair reasons on the whim of their employer. In many instances there is nothing illegal with doing that even though it is not fair. However, employees do have protections and if they are fired because of an employer's biases and discrimination, the employee may have a wrongful termination claim.
It is illegal for employers to terminate employees based on their race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, age, for disabilities and other personal characteristics. If the employee is fired for one of these reasons they may be entitled to a number of remedies. These include reinstatement to their job or status, back pay, punitive damages, attorneys' fees and court costs, compensation for pain and suffering and other remedies.
However, these are not always the easiest cases to prove. Many times it seems like it is the employer's word against the employee's word, but there are ways to do it. There could be valuable evidence in the employee's personnel file such as past discipline, past performance reviews, complaints made and other evidence. Also, one could look at past employment history to determine whether the firing was legitimate or most likely based on discrimination. Co-workers may also be able to provide valuable information regarding the real reasons for a firing.
There are many people who are fired every day in California. Many times the firing is legal, but there are many instances when it may be a wrongful termination. The key is to collect relevant evidence as quickly as possible to try and figure out the real reason. At Hennig Ruiz we have a great amount of experience and know what evidence to look for to help protect employees' rights. For more information on how we handle these matters please visit our wrongful termination page on our website.