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What makes a termination "wrongful"?

Employees who have been recently fired or who are facing a job loss may wonder if they have a claim for wrongful termination. To prevail in a wrongful termination case, a person must prove that they were fired for an illegal reason. There are many reasons that a termination may violate California or federal employment laws.

Some of the reasons that firing an employee may be illegal include that the termination was a violation of anti-discrimination laws, that it was a form of sexual harassment, that it violated an employment agreement, that it was in violation of labor laws or that the termination occurred as a result of the employee's complaint against the employer. The penalties for wrongful termination by an employer vary.

In some cases, employers may face statutory penalties while in others, the employer may be required to pay for monetary damages that were incurred by the employee as a result of the illegal firing. Damages in many cases may be limited to the actual losses suffered by the employee as a result of the wrongful termination. In some cases, the employee may also be able to ask for punitive damages designed to punish the employer for the wrongful conduct and discourage other employers from acting in similar ways.

People who believe that they may have been a victim of wrongful termination may wish to consult an attorney experienced in employment law matters. Employees who are not under contract may be terminated at any time in most states, and employers are not required to provide any reason. However, employers are still subject to anti-discrimination laws and other laws designed to protect employees, so an employee engaged in at-will employment may still have a case for wrongful termination even if the employee never signed an employment contract.

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