California is an “at-will” employment state, meaning employers can generally fire an employee at any time without needing to provide a reason. However, this does not mean that all terminations are legal. There are many exceptions to the “at-will” rule. If a termination was for reasons that violate a fundamental public policy, as embodied by a constitutional or statutory provision which is designed to benefit the general public (such as the anti-discrimination laws), then the employee can file a common law civil tort lawsuit for wrongful termination. Moreover, even if the employer does not actually fire the employee, but the employee is forced to resign due to intolerable working conditions which violate public policy, then the employee can bring a cause of action for “constructive” wrongful termination. An aggrieved employee may recover damages for items such as wage loss (both past and future), medical expenses (such as for psychiatric care, counseling, medications, etc.), and emotional distress. Moreover, if the employer acted with malice, oppression or fraud, an employee may also seek to recover punitive damages.
If you believe you have been wrongfully terminated, please call Hubbs Disability Law for a free consultation at (800) 883-3492, or fill out our contact form.