California is considered an at-will state. Employees here may be fired without a reason and may also quit without a reason. But, that doesn't mean that employees can be fired for any reason.
California and federal employment law prohibits employers from firing an employee for the following reasons:
- On the basis of your gender, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religion, age or disability, among others
- Taking job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) or the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)
- Reporting sexual harassment or discrimination in the workplace
- Reporting your employer for illegal business practices (often referred to as 'blowing the whistle' or 'whistelblower protections')
- Requesting a reasonable accommodation for a disability
Often an employer will not come right out and say that they are firing you for a prohibited reason, but there may be evidence or a pattern of behavior that indicates that termination or discharge was for an illegal purpose.
If you are terminated, discharged, constructively terminated or forced to quit for a reason that is not allowed by law, you may have a legal claim for wrongful termination. An employment law attorney in your area can help you determine the necessary steps to assert a claim for damages against your former employer.
You may be entitled to have your position reinstated, eligible for back pay for the time you were not working and the value of any benefits that you did not receive while you were not working, as well as general damages related to the wrongful termination.