Our Los Angeles wrongful termination and discrimination in employment lawyers represent employees throughout Southern California, including, but not limited to, Koreatown, Wilshire District, Downtown Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Malibu, Venice, the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley. Our years of experience have solidified The Nourmand Law Firm as one of the premier employment law firms in Southern California. If you feel you have been discriminated against or had your employment terminated for an illegal reason, please contact our office immediately.
Wrongful Termination and Discrimination in Employment
If you are a California employee, you have rights.
As a California employee, you may not be discriminated against in the terms and conditions of your employment. Even though employment in California is “at-will,” you cannot be fired for an unlawful reason. California law has substantial legal protections to prevent employers from discriminating against you based on a protected characteristic.
These protections are embodied in California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which provides statutory protection, as well as the so-called common law, which recognizes that employees can bring a claim against former employers for Wrongful Termination in violation of public policy.
California’s FEHA Prohibits Discrimination in Employment
The FEHA permits employees who have been discriminated against to recover lost compensation, including backpay, future earnings, as well as damages for emotional distress, and may even allow recovery of punitive damages.
Who does the FEHA Protect?
The FEHA protects current employees, former employees and even applicants.
Who must comply with the FEHA?
An employer who employs five (5) or more employees must comply with FEHA. The FEHA does not apply to employees working for their spouse, child or parents. Also, FEHA does not apply to non-profit religious organizations.1
What is Required by the FEHA?
FEHA protects employees against discrimination by employers in hiring, discharge, employment, and even selection for training programs that would lead to employment, or in the compensation or conditions, privileges or terms of employment.
What is a Protected Characteristic?
An employer cannot make a decision with respect to your employment because of your:
- National Origin;
- Physical Disability;
- Mental Disability;
- Medical Condition;
- Genetic Information;
- Marital Status;
- Gender Expression;
- Gender Identity;
- Sexual Orientation
- Age; or
- Pregnancy or Related Condition.
What is an Unlawful Employment Practice?
If an employer takes any of the following actions against you because of a protected characteristic, you may have a claim under the FEHA:
- Refusing to hire or employ;
- Refusing to select for a training program leading to employment;
- Discharge from employment or a training program leading to employment;
- Discrimination in compensation or terms, conditions, or privileges of employment.
“Terms, conditions, or privileges of employment” is interpreted broadly, and extends to such conduct as:
- Failing to Accommodate for known disability.
Wrongful Termination in Violation of Public Policy
In addition to the statutory protections of the FEHA, California also recognizes a common law claim for Wrongful Termination. Wrongful Termination claims can be broader in scope than the specific protected characteristics, and simply must be connected to some public policy of the State of California.
A claim for Wrongful Termination requires:
- an employer-employee relationship;
- an adverse employment action;
- a “nexus” between the termination and a public policy which protects the employee;
- and legal damages caused by the adverse action.
Typically, the employer – employee relationship and termination have already occurred, therefore the critical analysis is demonstrating that the adverse employment action was because the employee participated in some activity protected by Public Policy.
Examples of Protected Activity and Public Policy
- Employment Discrimination;
- Violation of Family or Medical Leave laws;
- Protesting Unsafe Working Conditions;
- Refusing to Sign a Non-competition Agreement;
- Refusing to Release an Employer from Liability for Intentional Acts;
- Whistleblowing re Misappropriation of Public Funds;
- Disclosing Improper Acts which affect the Public at Large;
- Testifying at a Hearing;
- Advocating Medical Care;
- Discussing Wages with Co-workers;
- Equal Pay; or
- Political Activity.
California Employers’ Legal Obligations
Even if the California Employer is not directly or personally engaging in illegal discriminatory employment practices, he or she must ensure that other personnel are not practicing the same. Specifically, the employer must take reasonable steps needed to prevent harassment or discrimination from taking place.
If you feel that you were terminated or discriminated against on the basis of one of the protected classes discussed above, please contact our California wrongful termination lawyers, California employment lawyers at the Nourmand Law Firm. We have a Spanish-speaking staff and offer free consultations.
1Cal. Gov. Code 12926(d)