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Job Termination and Harassment

Wrongful Termination / Work Harassment or Discrimination

sexual harassment in the workplace

The vast majority of employees today are hired as “at will” employees, meaning that they don’t have a formal employment contract with their employer.  An “at will” employee can quit a job at any time and an employer can fire an “at will” employee at any time, as long as the employee is not fired for reasons that violate the law or public policy. Employees may have a claim for illegal discrimination or harassment even if they are not actually terminated from their job.

Some examples of wrongful termination in violation of law or public policy include termination based on age, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, or national origin. There are also numerous statutory protections prohibiting an employer from firing an employee because of a job injury, a disability, “whistle blowing”, medical leave issues and the like. Sexual harassment, racial slurs or other types of harassing conduct that create a “hostile work environment” can also form the basis of a discrimination / harassment claim.

Wrongful termination and/or discrimination is a complicated area of legal practice. There are numerous grounds upon which a wrongfully terminated, or discriminated against, employee can sue his or her employer. In California, there are also certain “administrative” requirements that an employee must follow before a lawsuit can be filed. These include filing certain forms with government agencies, including the U.S. Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Please see our links page to link to these government agencies for further information.

What To Do After Being Terminated or Discriminated Against…

If you have been terminated, discriminated against or harassed at work, you must do what is necessary to protect yourself and your legal rights. We suggest the following:

  • In the case of harassment or discrimination, keep a journal of the dates, times, locations and persons who are harassing you.  Report the improper conduct to your supervisor or their supervisor immediately. Once you report the conduct, the employer should investigate your complaint and take appropriate action to terminate it.  If the employer refuses to investigate or act on your complaint and the conduct continues, contact a lawyer immediately.
  • Obtain the names and addresses of all witnesses to the improper conduct right away.
  • If you are going to be terminated, try and obtain a copy of your employment file.
  • Keep copies of all documents that your employer gives you which state why you were fired. Obtain copies of any documents which pertain to your firing, such as employment reviews, notices, warnings, etc. Keep any other physical evidence which confirms that the termination was wrongful.
  • Consult a lawyer immediately. A lawyer can help you preserve evidence and analyze the case to determine if there has been wrongful conduct. A lawyer will also help you with the necessary administrative forms that must be filed.

Remember That Time Is Of The Essence…

You should not delay in speaking with a lawyer after an accident, no matter how minor the accident may be. A successful case must be investigated immediately. Evidence must be preserved. Additionally, the law provides certain time limitations in which action must be taken. If the required action is not taken within that time, your case will be lost forever!


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