California is an at-will state. Thus, employers often believe that they can fire an at-will employee at any time for any reason. This is false. Under California law, an employer can fire an employee for any reason except for a reason that violates public policy. Generally, being terminated for a reason that violates public policy overrides the at-will employment doctrine. However, the question comes down to what constitutes a violation of public policy? This is a good question for an employment law attorney to answer.
Wrongful Termination Verdict
In Macdonald v. Ascent Media Group, Inc., et al, the plaintiff was hired as a creative director for defendant, a Hollywood visual effects company. The plaintiff complained to a senior executive at the company that his supervisor was using cocaine at work. The very next day the plaintiff was terminated. Fortunately, plaintiff retained employment law attorneys and sued company for wrongful termination.
At trial, the plaintiff argued that he was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy for reporting his supervisor’s drug use, and that the plaintiff was fired in order to protect the reputation of the company and the supervisor. The defendant argued that the plaintiff was fired because the company was concerned about protecting the privacy of its employees. The jury found that plaintiff was wrongfully terminated in violation of public policy and subsequently awarded the plaintiff $450,000.
Employment Law Attorneys Can Help You
Other examples of reasons for termination that violate public policy include gender discrimination, race discrimination, family or medical leave discrimination, political activity, whistle-blowing, refusing to sign a non-compete agreement, and testifying at a hearing. This is not an exclusive list of reasons for termination that violate public policy. There are many more reasons that qualify as wrongful termination. If you feel you have been wrongfully terminated, and you would like to know whether your employer has in fact wrongfully terminated you, contact an employment law attorney immediately.