5 Employees who are Targets of Discrimination and/or Wrongful Termination
Employees in California are considered at-will employees. This means if you are employed in California, unlike other States, your protection from being fired is not as extensive. California is an at-will State, so an employee can be fired or let go for any reason or for no reason at all. For instance, your boss could tell you “Hey, I have just decided you annoy me and I can’t stand the site of you. Pack your things” and this would likely be totally legal, as long as this termination was not based on an illegal reason.
Determining whether you have been fired for an illegal reason is not always as simple as it seems; not every employer will be so bold (or reckless) as to actually say “I don’t want you working here because of your ethnicity” or “we are letting you go because you are a woman”, there are exceptions, but for the most part this won’t be the case. Usually, an employment lawyer will need to look at the salient features surrounding the termination of an employee to establish whether discrimination and/or a wrongful termination had occurred.
There are a number of groups who are protected by the law in California from being fired based on the class he or she belongs to. In this article, five particular types of classes are discussed.
1. The New Mom
A woman who is fired or refused employment may have a right to pursue legal action against the employer who made that decision. A woman who is fired based on the fact that she is expecting a child may have a case for wrongful termination. In another instance, a woman who is refused employment based on the actual belief or fact that she is pregnant may have a claim against the hiring company for discrimination.
Interestingly, within the claim of being fired based on expecting a baby, there are many complex rights regarding the leave the woman may have based on taking a pregnancy leave. An employer may discriminate and wrongfully terminate a woman after she puts her request to take her medical leave to have the baby. Even though the employer may argue the decision to let the employee go is based on taking a leave, the employee, or ex-employee at that point, could claim that she was fired ultimately because she is pregnant, which therefore could be identified as discrimination and wrongful termination.
Lastly, the father of a soon to be born child may also have rights in taking time off to care for the mother. In addition, the father may also have the right to take leave after the baby is born. Should he be reused the time off or fired for taking or requesting the leave, he may also have a claim against his employer.
2. The Man or the Woman
All employees, regardless of what gender or sex an employee identifies with, may be susceptible to gender or sex discrimination in the workplace. For instance, an employee may feel unsafe at work based on teasing or bullying by other coworkers or even their superiors. Particularly, the employee may be a target of this torment based on the fact this employee is a woman, man, or chooses to remain gender neutral. From name calling to being denied employment benefits, a person in this situation at work may have a claim against their employer. Employees are entitled to feel safe in their work environment. If an employee feels that they are being mistreated at work based on their gender or sex, it may be a possible claim for discrimination and if that discrimination leads to the employee losing their job that may be an additional claim for wrongful termination.
3. The Over 40
“Over the hill” or “old geezer” are unflattering yet humorous comments to hear on your birthday from friends and family. But what happens when your boss starts making comments about your age? In California, employees who are 40 years of age and older have protection from being fired based on their age. For instance, if Bob had worked in his position for over ten years and on his 50th birthday his boss let him go claiming “it was time to give the position to someone with a younger perspective”, Bob may have a claim for age discrimination and wrongful termination.
4. Those Who Have a Disability
Employees or potential employees with a recognized disability are considered a protected class in employment law. An employee with a disability should, within reason be offered the same employment opportunities as any other employee. If an individual with a disability is capable of performing a role, even with practical adjustments, the individual should not be denied employment simply because he or she has a disability.
Some employees may develop a disability after he or she has been hired and already in their role. Thereafter, the employer is expected to meet the employee’s request for accommodation within reason. Terminating an employee based on this request may ignite a claim against the employer for disability discrimination and wrongful termination.
Employees who are treated differently from other employees based on their race may be considered as race discrimination. An indicator that an employee is being targeted at work based on their race is the mistreatment is inflicted upon other employees who are of or perceived to be of the same race as the targeted employee. This can come in the form of teasing, bullying, reduction of shifts, denial of promotion, and even termination.
In conclusion, an important nuance in determining discrimination is the particular termination must be based on the employee being a member of a particular class. Being a member of a class does not mean that the employee is automatically immune from being fired. The reason for firing the employee must be because they belong to the class. For instance, if a pregnant employee steals from the company she works for, her pregnancy does not shield her from the consequences of that action.
For more info, you can contact a wrongful termination lawyer same as Stevens & McMillan Employment Lawyers.