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Orange County Wrongful Termination Lawyer


Under California’s Labor Code, any employment relationship with no specific duration is considered “at-will” employment. By definition, an at-will employment relationship enables both employers and employees to terminate employment at any time, with or without cause. Exceptions apply to at-will termination are when a termination violates a statute, court ruling, public policy, and another law or regulation. While most employees in the state of California fall into the category of at-will employees, they still maintain certain legal rights that protect them against wrongful termination.

Wrongful termination cases may involve:

  • Discrimination
  • Employer retaliation
  • Implied contracts
  • Good faith dealings


Wrongful termination may occur when an employee is terminated for illegal reasons, which usually implies that the termination violates a law or regulation as established in a statute, policy or court ruling. An employee can be wrongfully terminated for a variety of reasons. Statutory discrimination – Employers cannot terminate employees based on a protected category of characteristics, including race, religion, marital status, national origin, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or sexual orientation, among others. Protected activities – As employees have the legal right to participate in certain protected activities, they also have the right to be protected against adverse employment repercussions for exercising their right to participate in such activities. Employers cannot terminate employees on the basis of pregnancy, family, medical or military leave. Other protected activities can include voting and serving jury duty. Employer retaliation – Employees cannot be fired for opposing certain conduct or for employer retaliation. Common examples that constitute a wrongful termination can include such grounds as opposing unlawful activity, refusing to enter an unsafe workplace, and protesting against discrimination, harassment, wage violations and other various employer violations. Other types of wrongful termination – Sometimes employees have an “implied contract” with their employer, which prevents their employer from firing them without cause. The court may determine whether such a condition existed by examining promises of job security, your employee handbook of policies and job performance evaluations. Often implied contracts are informal, so it is helpful to bring an experienced employment law attorney onto your case to ensure your rights remain protected. California courts also recognize a claim called “breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.” An example of this could include if you were promised a commission so many days after making a sale but were terminated before the commission was due to be paid. Terminating the relationship to avoid paying the commission would violate good faith and fair dealing.


California is an “at-will” employment state. That means that either the employee or the employer can terminate the employment. However, there are some rules that employers have to follow.

Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions about California wrongful termination.

In most situations, an employee handbook will be considered a legally binding document between your employer and you. The employee handbook is most often considered an extension of the employee contract. In many cases, the employee handbook will be used as evidence. This means that if there are promises or guarantees in the employee handbook that have not been fulfilled, this may be grounds for a case. If the employer changed the handbook but did not notify you or other employees of the change, then you are not bound by those changes. If your issue involves not being paid the promised wages or overtime, and you can not resolve it with your employer, speak to an employment law attorney.
Sexual harassment can be difficult to determine and even harder to prove. However, this does not mean that you should not take action. ANY unwanted sexual advances, behavior or requests can constitute on-the-job sexual harassment. The first thing to do is to let the person know their behavior or comments are unwelcome. Tell them in no uncertain terms to stop. Keep track of what was said and done, the time and date and any witnesses. Inform your supervisor of what is going on. Review the employee handbook for the steps to take and who to tell in instances of sexual harassment. If you’ve taken these steps and been fired, demoted or ignored, speak with a California employment law attorney. If you were fired after complaining about harassment, it is always in your best interest to know and understand your rights and recourse.

California employers with more than 50 employees need to give their employees 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period as stated in the California Family Rights Act. You should get this time off for adopting a child and for several other health matters that affect your family. If your employer employs 20 to 49 employees, then your 12-week time off for adoption should be covered under the New Parent Leave Act. If you experience a demotion or are terminated after you adopt a child, speak with a California employment law attorney.

You have a right to privacy. This does not mean on-the-job drug testing is illegal. Some jobs require that the worker be clear-headed and not influenced by drugs that could affect judgment. Jobs in transportation and aviation and contractors with NASA and the Department of Defense are some of these jobs. In the California courts, these instances of invasion of privacy and on-the-job drug testing are judged on a case-by-case basis. The courts typically take into consideration the employer’s reasons for testing and the amount of intrusion on the employee. If you were fired for refusing a drug test at your place of employment, an employment law attorney can certainly provide guidance.

At Diefer Law Group, P.C., we can answer your questions and let you know your next best steps. Call (888) 301-7795 and set up a free consultation or send us a brief email about your situation.

OUR Orange County Wrongful Termination LAWYERS CAN PROTECT YOU

If you have more questions about what could constitute wrongful termination, check out our wrongful termination FAQ. You can also receive more information from the California Chamber of Commerce. When it can be shown, clearly and convincingly, that an employer based the termination on these or other similar factors rather than a legitimate business reason, wrongfully terminated employees may be eligible to recover financial compensation for their damages.

This can include lost work wages and the value of lost benefits. Other cases may also permit unlawfully terminated employees to recover emotional damages and punitive damages. As cases and recoverable damages depend heavily on the personal circumstances and facts involved, we invite you to find specific answers that relate to your situation during a free case evaluation with one of our Southern California employment attorneys.

If you or your loved one has reason to believe that you may have been wrongfully terminated, the experienced, bold and aggressive representation you need to assert your rights is available at the Diefer Law Group, P.C. Comprising a talented legal team that draws from more than 60 years of combined experience, we have the ability and willingness to fight for your rights and the best possible outcome.

If you would like to learn more about wrongful termination, the potential merits of your case and how our firm can helpcontact a Southern California wrongful termination attorney from Diefer Law Group today.


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Diefer Law Group, P.C.


2030 Main Street
Suite 1356
Irvine, CA 92614

(949) 799-1860

San Diego

12636 High Bluff Drive
Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92130

(619) 728-3990

Los Angeles

355 South Grand Avenue
Suite 2450
Los Angeles, CA 90071

(213) 973-6142


6670 Alessandro Blvd
Suite H,
Riverside CA, 92506

(951) 470-1862

Dana Point

34204 Pacific Coast
Dana Point, CA 92629

(949) 799-1534

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