Respected Bay Area Attorneys Provide Wrongful Termination Defense
Seasoned Oakland lawyers aid employers in lawsuits and state investigations
California is an at-will employment state, which means that workers can be terminated for any legitimate business reason. Still, workers often lodge claims or file lawsuits alleging that there were ulterior motives for their discharge. To defend your decision to fire an employee against a legal challenge, you need an attorney skilled in the law of the workplace. Businesses and other employers have turned to Bay Oak Law in Oakland for legal help since 1998. We will conduct a thorough investigation and collect documentation to build a strong case that your decision to fire an employee was justified.
Exceptions to the at-will employment rules
Generally, California workers and businesses have the right to end the employment relationship at any time and without providing a specific justification for their decision. However, there are exceptions to the at-will employment standard that enable fired workers to obtain legal relief. An employer could be liable for damages in a wrongful termination case if the firing involves one the following:
- Discrimination — To prove a wrongful termination case based on discrimination, the employee must show that a substantial motivating factor for the termination decision was bias against his or her age, race, religion, gender, disability or another protected personal characteristic under federal or state law.
- Retaliation — An employer cannot fire an employee for making a complaint about wrongdoing by colleagues or supervisors or for participating in an investigation by the Department of Fair Employment & Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Likewise, it is illegal to dismiss an employee because they exercised their rights under the Family and Medical Leave Act or another law.
- Public policy violation — Firing an employee who refuses to undertake a harmful task, sign an illegal contract or participate in illegal activity may qualify as wrongful termination.
- Contract or internal policy violation — Some employment contracts and policies require the employer to follow certain steps before releasing an employee. As long as a contract remains valid, its terms are binding and the employer can be held accountable for breaching its terms.
In wrongful termination lawsuits, the burden of proof is on the employee. When defending employers in DFEH investigations or in litigation, we marshal evidence that supports the legitimate motives and actions of management. We also pursue mediation or arbitration where these remedies are likely to produce favorable outcomes.
Attorneys skilled at preparing severance and separation agreements
Even though a termination is lawful and valid, it may still be subject to a legal contest. Enlisting the help of an employment law attorney before undertaking a layoff or termination may prevent such litigation. We work with management and human resources to create enforceable severance and separation agreements that can set forth the terms of legitimate termination and limit the opportunities for an employee to challenge a discharge.
Frequently asked questions
Can an employee sue for wrongful termination?
Former employees can sue for wrongful termination if they believe that their firing violates the law in some way. The specific process and filing deadline depend on the particular circumstances. For example, a lawsuit alleging discrimination must be preceded by a complaint to the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Can an employee be fired for no reason?
Under California’s at-will employment law, a business may terminate a worker without providing a reason for the dismissal. However, if no explanation is provided, the fired employee might claim that the termination was based on illegal grounds.
Is it hard to prove wrongful termination?
Proving a wrongful termination case can be difficult as the claimant bears the burden of showing that their firing was unlawful. Even if the employer cannot demonstrate a legal reason for the dismissal, such as poor performance, relief will not be awarded unless the worker shows they were let go for a reason that violates the law.
Why should I hire an attorney?
Even if you are certain that the facts underlaying a wrongful termination claim are clearly on your side, it is critical to hire an experienced employment lawyer. Our attorneys will evaluate your case, explain your options and develop a strategy aimed at achieving the best result possible. We are strong, skillful advocates who have deep understanding of the relevant statutes and case law.
Contact supportive Oakland wrongful termination defense attorneys today
When your Bay Area business is facing a wrongful termination complaint, the legal team at Bay Oak Law can step in to help. To schedule your free initial consultation with our Oakland, California office, call us at 510-208-5500 or contact us online.