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Did your termination violate your employment contract?

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In the modern workplace, it is not always easy to determine when an employer treats you unfairly, even when they terminate your employment. The employer will certainly not voluntarily admit to any wrongdoing, even if your termination violates the law or your employment contract. Unfortunately, many employers act outside of the law, letting employees bearing the consequences.

If you suspect that you were recently terminated unfairly or illegally, it is always wise to examine why your employer let you go and whether the action fits within the boundaries laid out by your contract or the law in general.

If you do find a violation, then you should pursue a fair resolution rather than simply letting it go. If you have legitimate grounds to contest your firing, then fighting back against it not only protect your own rights but also lays a foundation for others to protect their rights from similar unfair treatment.

The terms of your employment

If your employer claims that your termination is allowed per your contract, do not simply take their word for it. Get out your employment contract and look over it very carefully, paying special attention to any language that outlines when and if your employer may terminate your position and the circumstances under which that is allowed.

In many instances, employers terminate employees on grounds that seem legally sound but are not. Sometimes, an employer does this knowingly, counting on the difficulty of overturning this decision to keep the employee from fighting the decision. In other cases, the employer or the individual who approved the termination inaccurately believes that the grounds are sound, and needs clarification on the matter.

Most employers provide their own guidelines of behavior and expectations for their employees, listing the disciplinary procedures that the company uses in various circumstances. If your employer terminated you over a violation that your contract or employee handbook states should receive different punishment, then your employer may not have the right to fire you at all, according to their own proprietary documents.

Your protections under the law

California is an at-will state, meaning that employers may terminate employees for any reason at any time, unless:

  • An employment contract or company policy prevents them from doing so
  • A state or federal laws prohibit a termination - e.g. firing an employee who reports discrimination in the workplace

A detailed understanding of the law and a careful assessment of the circumstances surrounding your termination can help you understand how to build a strong legal strategy and potentially pursue compensation and even reinstatement in your position.

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