Wrongful termination is one of the most commonly misunderstanding legal terms. One of the typical misconceptions that aggrieved employees have, is thinking that just because they were terminated for unfair or unsubstantiated reasons, they have a valid wrongful termination case. In many, if not most cases, this is not true. In fact, the vast majority of terminations (especially in a private sector) do not give rise to a wrongful termination case. This is because in the absence of evidence of unlawful discrimination or retaliation, being treated badly at work is not against the law.
As the Second District Court noted in Arteaga v Brinks, Inc., the “FEHA (Fair Employment and Housing Act) does not guarantee a stress-free working environment. The law does not take away an employer’s right to interpret its rules as it chooses, and to make determinations as it sees fit under those rules, whether it’s done in a fair and wise fashion or not. The law addresses illegal discrimination. It is not a shield against harsh treatment at the workplace… nor does the law require the employer to have good cause for its decisions. The employer may fire an employee for a good reason, a bad reason…, or for no reason at all, as long as its action is not for discriminatory reasons…. While an employer’s judgement or action may seem poor or erroneous to outsiders, the relevant question is whether the given reason was a pretext for illegal discrimination. The employer’s stated legitimate reason … does not have to be a reason that the judge or jurors would act on or approve.“
Therefore, before considering filing a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer, look at the above language carefully and find out or even better – discuss with an experienced employment attorney whether there is sufficient evidence to prove that the reason for your termination was not just unfair or hurtful or false ,but it was also illegal – it violated one or more of the specific California or Federal employment laws.
When you meet with a knowledgeable employment attorney, ask him openly how they are planning to prove that your termination was actually unlawful. Ask your attorney what specific claims you have, and how the facts of your particular situation fit with the elements of the wrongful termination case that will need to be proven in court? This will be very helpful in deciding whether to file a case, and when you do – how to go about helping your attorney win your case or achieve a satisfactory settlement result with your present or former employer, by providing all the evidence and all the information necessary to prove your case.