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Understanding wrongful termination law in California

Laws governing wrongful termination in California provide rules that determine whether the termination was in accordance with the law, and the benefits available if it wasn't proper. Wrongful termination law is basically concerned with violations of contract, both express and implied. In simple terms, these cases seek to address the lawfulness of the dismissal, and whether the employer was right to let the employee go, or if the termination breached the contract between the two parties. While discrimination based on race, sex, religion or national origin at work place can lead to wrongful termination, these falls under a separate legal field.

In any wrongful termination controversy, the employment at will doctrine stands out. It creates a presumption that employees and their employers are not bound to remain in the relationship by anything other than their voluntary desire to continue with the relationship.

According to California's Labor Code, an employment relationship that does not specify the duration of the employment is presumed to be employment at will. Theoretically it means that either party can terminate the relationship at any time, whether there is a cause or not. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule created by the courts, statute or public policy. Statutory exceptions to at-will rule include firing an employee for participating in union activities, or for refusing to be part of an activity that contravenes the law.

In most cases, employers will enter into written contracts with their employees to state the terms of employment. However, such a contract will supersede the doctrine of employment at will. In some cases, an employer may just make verbal communication on the matter. In such a case, an implied employment contract is automatically created by operation of law.

In wrongful termination law, sometimes the conduct of an employer can take legal significance that he or she did not intend. It is not uncommon for an employer to fire an employee without even noticing it. For example, when an employer causes the working conditions at work to deteriorate forcing the employee to quit his or her job, such a case is treated as a wrongful termination. In employment law, it is known as constructive discharge. If the employee had a right to continue with the employment, the employer is held liable for wrongful termination. It is a way of holding employers accountable for getting rid of employees in a manner deemed disingenuous.

In the event that you have been wrongfully terminated from your job, you have a right to financial compensation from your former employer. Just like any other legal matter, retaining an attorney is the best way of ensuring that your case is heard and determined within the current laws in California. A lawyer also increases your chances of getting fair compensation from your employer.


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