Dismissals, demotions, and punishments at work

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The type of employment in California is called “at-will.” However, this does not mean that employers can fire workers for any reason.

What is “at-will” employment?

Employment “at-will” refers to work in which employees can leave their job at any time without reason or notice. Also, employers are free to fire employees at any time and without explanation. However, they cannot violate federal, state, and local laws. In addition, there are a wide variety of laws that protect workers against wrongful termination, demotion, or unfair punishments. 

For example, in California, you cannot be fired for any reason related to your identity. This includes your race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation. Therefore, you may have a wrongful termination claim if you have experienced any of the following:

  • You were fired because of your race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation.
  • Your work environment became so intolerable that you had no reasonable choice but to quit.
  • You have been unfairly demoted (because of your race, sex, gender, age, disability, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation).
  • You have been suspended without justification and pay.
  • You have been disciplined without justification.
  • Your salary has been unfairly cut.
  • You were denied a promotion without a reasonable explanation.

If one or more of the situations described has occurred to you, and you believe that your employer did not have a legitimate basis to take that action against you, you may have a claim.

Remember: you cannot be fired for who you are. In many cases, employees who have been illegally fired don’t even know it. Any employee who suspects wrongful termination (demotion or discipline) and acts quickly has an advantage.