Most employees in California are at-will employees. This means that they do not have an employment contract stating a specific length of time the employee will be employed by a company. It also generally means that the employer can fire the employee for many different reasons at any time just as the employee can quit at any time. However, all employees still have certain rights, and there are certain reasons that employers cannot fire an employee.
It is illegal for employers to fire an employee for discriminatory purposes, for example, because the employee is of a certain race, sex, has a certain sexual orientation, is older, has a disability or for many other protected reasons. If the employer does fire an employee based on one of those reasons then the employee may have a wrongful termination case. To initiate these claims the employee may need to file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
After the claim is filed, there is a process that is followed. First, the charge will be sent to the employer. Then the employer and employee may be asked if they want to mediate the charge. If mediation fails or if they do not agree to mediate, then the charge will be investigated by the EEOC. The employer will be asked for their response to the charge, and then the employee will have a chance to respond to that. After the investigation, the EEOC will determine if the law has been violated or not. At that time the employee will be given a Notice of Right to Sue and can then file a lawsuit in court if the parties are unable to reach a resolution.
While it may not be as common as it used to be, employers do still discriminate against their employees in California. If the employee believes they were fired based on a discriminatory reason, then the employee can file a claim with the EEOC, which will investigate the claim. After that is complete, the employee may be able to sue the employer in court to receive the compensation they deserve.