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How do you know if you are a victim of wrongful termination?

Did you know that your California employer cannot simply fire you for any reason? Scores of employees are unfairly ousted from their jobs every year -- those people are considered victims of wrongful termination. Although you may have heard this term in the past, you may not be entirely familiar with the rules governing wrongful termination. Here's what to look for if you suspect that your employer may have violated state or federal law.

Am I protected from unfair firing?

If you have a formal employment contract or bargaining agreement, you enjoy more protection from unfair termination than the majority of employees. The lion's share of American workers fall into the "employment at will" category, which, in theory, allows employers to fire their workers at any time. That tenet also allows employees to walk off the job without giving notice. Employers cannot simply dismiss their workers for any reason, however; if public policy, discrimination law or company policy regarding termination are violated, the employee could recover damages for wrongful termination.

What are some protected categories that allow me to file a civil suit for wrongful termination?

Employers are prohibited from firing their employees on the basis of national origin, age, ethnicity, race, gender or religious preference. Some states have included other categories, such as sexual preference. You might have a wrongful termination case if you can prove that your employer engaged in discriminatory firing practices.

Can any government agencies help?

The U.S. Department of Labor and California Department of Labor have a vested interest in maintaining fair hiring and firing practices. These entities can help victims learn more about their legal rights when it comes to unfair dismissal.

Employees who have been wrongfully terminated from their jobs do not need to feel hopeless. Avenues exist to recover damages and get your career back on track after you go through this experience. Every employee deserves a respectful, fair dismissal that is not based on discriminatory practice.

Source: About.com, "What is Wrongful Termination?," Alison Doyle, accessed July 15, 2015

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