Wrongful termination suits for employment discrimination are matters taken very seriously by both the federal and California state government. Lawsuits based on wrongful termination can be brought pursuant to the federal law Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on an employee’s race, religion, color, sex or national origin. Title VII applies to all companies that have 15 or more employees, and such businesses are strictly prohibited from engaging in unlawful discriminatory practices during all aspects of the employment process. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) is the state law prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. The FEHA expands on the class of protected parties provided by Title VII and prohibits discrimination based on an employee’s national origin, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, marital status, sex, age, physical or mental disability and/or mental condition.
Discrimination in the workplace can occur in a variety of contexts including the:
- Hiring, firing, promotion and termination process;
- The negotiation, provision and receipt of employment benefits; and
- The performance and allocation of job duties.
Discrimination can take a variety of forms and can include all verbal, physical and visual forms of discrimination. These different types of discrimination can include racial slurs, verbal or physical harassment, and other forms of conduct that singles out, disadvantages and/or result in the negative treatment of an employee because of some sort of protected characteristic.
Bringing a Wrongful Termination Suit in Lso Angeles, California
In Los Angeles, an employee can base their wrongful termination employment claim on one of the following claims, including:
- Public policy violations;
- Whistleblower retaliation;
- Refusal to provide vacation/medical leave or other work benefits;
- Sexual harassment;
- Breach of contract allegations;
- Freedom of association and speech violations.
Under the California Labor Code, employment relationships that have not defined a specified duration for the relationship are considered to be employment at-will relationships. At-will employment contracts can technically be terminated by either party, without cause and at any time. However, exceptions to this rule are created by state and federal law, public policy and past case law. Protection from employment termination because of discrimination is thus an exception to California state law, allowing a suit to be brought against an employer even when the employment relationship was at-will.
A wrongful termination suit based on discrimination has two parts. The first part is proving that discrimination based on an employee’s protected characteristic did indeed occur. Depending on whether a suit is brought under Title VII or the FEHA, the employee claiming wrongful termination as a result of a discriminatory practice must prove that they were either part of a protected class or were perceived as being part of a protected class. The discrimination that occurred must have been such that the employer was or should have reasonably been aware it was occurring, and the employer did not take the necessary and reasonable actions to prevent the discrimination from continuing to occur.
From there, it is necessary to make the connection between the discrimination and the subsequent wrongful termination that occurred. Typically, this connection is made by presenting a retaliation claim that alleges that upon reporting the discrimination to the employer or the employer’s agents, the employee was subsequently fired or otherwise terminated. Though it was not specifically stated by the employer that the report of discrimination was the controlling factor for the termination of the employment relationship, it is often shown as being the only legitimate reason why the employee would have been fired. Other arguments can allege that the employee was forced to terminate employment because the discrimination caused a pervasive and unsuitable workplace for continued employment.
Los Angeles, California Employment Law Attorneys: Providing Legal Representation in Wrongful Termination Suits
A wrongful employment termination because of discrimination in the workplace contains a myriad of legal issues. In addition to proving that discrimination based on a protected characteristic occurred, a clear connection between the discrimination and a subsequent employment termination must be made. Contact the employment lawyers at HKM Employment Attorneys LLP in Los Angeles to discuss the specifics of your case.