Attorneys Discuss Federal and California Employment Law
Jerry Kowal, a former Amazon employee, claimed he was fired by Netflix after a month of working at his new job when his former employer convinced his new employer to terminate him. Kowal claims that, although competitors, Amazon and Netflix have a mutually beneficial relationship in certain areas. For example, Amazon pays millions to Netflix for a storage service. Therefore, Kowal protested that rather than risk losing a well-paying customer, who also happens to be a competitor, Netflix decided to let him go when pressed by Amazon.
A case for wrongful termination can be as complicated as this one or much simpler. However, regardless of the complexity of the case, proving wrongful termination is not always easy. If you feel like you have been wrongfully terminated, then you need to contact an attorney that is experienced in handling this delicate matter.
What Are Some Signs of Potential Wrongful Termination
One sign of wrongful termination is if the firing can be proven to have been discriminatory. A case for discrimination can be argued if the firing can be proven to have been made based on race, sex, religion, age or a disability. Additionally, firings based on sexual preference and marriage status are considered discriminatory in some states, including California. An example of discrimination could involve several employees being reprimanded, but only those of Islamic faith losing their jobs.
It is unlawful to fire employees who file workers’ compensation claims in some states. Similarly, other forms of retaliation/revenge can be a cause of wrongful termination. There are also whistleblower laws, which protect employees who report company violations from being fired. An example would be an employee reporting a violation that that a co-worker was fired for filing for worker’s compensation and then the employee getting fired for reporting the violation. In this case, the employer would be dealing with two separate wrongful terminations if both cases are proven to be true.
If a court orders a company to garnish an employee’s wages for any reason, such as child support, the company cannot fire the employee to avoid the hassle of garnishing the wages.
It is unlawful to fire an employee who is about to retire with full retirement benefits after years of service to prevent the payment of the retirement benefits. This case can be made stronger if the employee retains proof of their good work ethic over the years.
Additionally, an at-will company may have an implied contract and, thus, certain obligations if an employee handbook makes certain promises.
Although not officially a termination, an employer can be brought to court if the company purposely changes the working conditions for the employee in such a way that it forces the employee to resign from the job. The argument can be made if the changes in work environment are obviously unreasonable.
In all cases such as these, the terminated employee must be able to prove that the employer violated federal or state law. As a company is unlikely to admit operating illegally, the terminated employee will have to rely on circumstantial evidence to build a case that a company violated the law.
Smart Things to Consider If You Feel You’ve Been Wrongfully Terminated
- Check your employment contract to see the steps for termination. Also, look to see what rights you may have when terminated. Perhaps, your employer is required to give you notice or severance pay.
- Keep any documents you received regarding your termination.
- Save anything that proves you were a competent employee, such as performance reviews or awards.
- Be on good terms with former co-workers in the event that they testify in a case regarding your termination.
- Make sure you are looking for a job while pursuing the case so it doesn’t seem like you are complaining about money, but not trying to work.
Extenuated circumstances are needed for a wrongful termination case. If you feel your termination is a violation of federal or state law, then consult with an employment lawyer with the knowledge to offer you the best options in your specific situation.