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What Constitutes Wrongful Termination?

Part 1 in a 3-Part Wrongful Termination Blog Series

Wrongful termination is a serious issue in the state of California and something that happens far too often. For this reason, the Orange County employment lawyers at Diefer Law Group, P.C. have decided to write a three-part blog series on the topic. In our first blog in this series, we wanted to give a basic overview of wrongful termination- what it is and what it might look like.

There are two major types of wrongful termination or "wrongful dismissal" which are:

  • Discrimination-Based Termination
  • Retaliation-Based Termination

We will discuss retaliation-based discrimination more in-depth in our next blog. For now, let's focus on discrimination-based termination. Employees who are fired or laid off for discriminatory reasons have cause for legal action under employment law (the section of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically addressing employment discrimination).

Types of Discrimination-Based Termination

There are eight basic categories of discrimination which are considered an unlawful basis for termination of employment. Within those categories are a variety of different types.

  1. Age – It is against the law for an employer to fire or lay off one of their employees because they are over the age of 40, so long as their age does not prevent them from performing their job duties.
  2. Disability – Employees who are unable to work for a paycheck due to a disability (physical or mental) can secure benefits under SSD or SSI, but an employer cannot terminate an employee because of a disability, especially if it does not prevent them from performing their job duties.
  3. Genetic Information – This is a relatively new category created in 2008 with the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act. Your employer cannot fire you because of information revealed in your genetic tests or your family medical history.
  4. Nationality – It is unlawful for an employer to terminate an employee based solely or primarily on that employee's national origin.
  5. Pregnancy – If an employee becomes pregnant or plans to become pregnant, this is not a lawful reason to terminate employment. That employee is entitled to maternity leave and can afterwards return to her position of employment.
  6. Race or Skin Color – It is against the law for an employer to fire or lay off an employee for having a certain skin color or being a certain race.
  7. Religion or Morals – Whether an employee strictly identifies with a certain religion or holds certain moral values, these are not valid reasons for terminating their employment.
  8. Sex – It is illegal to terminate employment on the basis of that employee's sex/gender or gender identity.

If you believe that you were wrongfully terminated from your position of employment, please do not hesitate to contact an Orange County employment attorney at Diefer Law Group, P.C. Our firm has years of experience fighting for the rights of California workers, so call today for a free consultation!